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Bemidji kidnapping suspect formally charged

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji man accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old girl was formally charged and appeared in court Monday. Jacob William Kinn, 32, was arraigned shortly after he was officially charged with one count of kidnapping. Kinn was arrest...

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji man accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old girl was formally charged and appeared in court Monday.

Jacob William Kinn, 32, was arraigned shortly after he was officially charged with one count of kidnapping.

Kinn was arrested Thursday in connection with the kidnapping of Brittany Balcer after she was found early that morning in a pop-up camper near Bigfork on property belonging to Kinn’s brother, according to a criminal complaint. Balcer had been missing since Wednesday, when a trailer home she had been visiting was destroyed in a fire.

According to the complaint, police responded to a fire at the 3900 block of Irvine Avenue at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. After firefighters gained control of the blaze, they found the body of an adult female identified by friends as Melissa Norby. Police have not confirmed the identity of the body, but acknowledged the person likely died as the result of a homicide.

At about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, a woman arrived at the trailer home and told law enforcement that her child had been staying there, the complaint said. Searchers did not find the body of the child at the scene of the fire and began searching.

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According to the complaint, Kinn was identified as a person of interest after police learned that the owner of the trailer home had recently become involved with the owner of a food truck called Jake’s Eats. Police learned that the food truck belonged to Kinn and discovered that he was on probation.

Police contacted Kinn’s probation agent, who contacted Kinn and asked him to go to the Beltrami County Law Enforcement Center. Kinn told his probation agent, “this is probably about that missing girl,” according to the complaint. Police spoke with Kinn and learned that his phone pinged off a cell tower near Bigfork on Wednesday, and that Kinn’s brother owned property near the tower. Police traveled to the property and located Balcer in a pop-up camper.

Balcer did not have access to food or water and her legs had been taped together. She was taken to the Family Advocacy Center for medical treatment. She had “acute injuries” on her body, the complaint said.

During a police interview with Balcer, she said a “friend” of the person she was staying with came to the trailer home and drove her to his house. She said this friend put tape on her mouth, legs and hands and that she watched “SpongeBob” and went to sleep in his bed. She described a house and car that match those belonging to Kinn. Balcer also told police that the friend drove her to a cabin, and told her that he was not going to come back.

Balcer’s father Scott Balcer said Friday that his daughter was back home and doing “a lot better.”

If convicted of kidnapping, Kinn could face 40 years in prison, a $50,000 fine, or both.

Kinn was convicted of possessing child pornography in 2013 and served 120 days in Beltrami County Jail.

Related Topics: CRIME
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