MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 32-year-old Bemidji man has been accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old girl, who was reported missing after a deadly house fire last week, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.
Jacob William Kinn faces one felony charge of kidnapping in connection to the disappearance of Brittany Rose Balcer.
According to Bemidji police, fire officials responded to a call of a fire in a mobile home located on the 3900 block of Irvine Avenue around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. Once crews were able to quell the flames, they investigated the home and found the body of an adult female.
Balcer was a family friend of the victim and, according to her mother, was staying at the house. She was not found.
More than 50 law enforcement officials and volunteers then began to search the woods and swampy area near the mobile home.
On Wednesday evening, officers spoke with Kinn, a person of interest in the case. Kinn is no stranger to police. He has been arrested and convicted on child pornography charges several times. He was taken into custody in connection with Balcer’s disappearance.
Police say he knew the woman found dead in the mobile home. According to the complaint, Kinn recently re-kindled a relationship with the victim.
After learning Kinn was on probation from a 2013 child pornography conviction, investigators talked with Kinn’s probation agent, who then told Kinn to come to the Beltrami County Law Enforcement Center. In response, Kinn allegedly said,”this is probably about that missing girl.”
Kinn did go to the law enforcement center, but denied any contact with the fire victim or the girl.
Investigators then used cell phone tracking technology to trace Kinn’s movements to a wooded area in Bigfork, which is about 70 miles northeast of Bemidji.
There, in a camper owned by Kinn’s brother, Balcer was found alive. She was then taken to a hospital for treatment for acute injuries on her body and tape marks all over her body.
According to the complaint, the girl was found on the top bunk of the camper, wearing pajamas with her legs taped together with black duct tape. Additionally, the girl did not have any food, water or bathroom facilities at her disposal.
If convicted, Kinn faces up to 40 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
The investigation into the deadly fire continues.