NOBLES COUNTY — A South Dakota man was apprehended Friday when law enforcement found him transporting a child who had been reported kidnapped.
The child's mother had reported to Sioux Falls, South Dakota law enforcement on Friday afternoon that Eric Turning Heart, 23, of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, had taken the child to the park the previous day, had not returned and was not answering his phone. Turning Heart is acquainted with the child but not related.
By looking at Turning Heart's recent bank transactions, police learned that he had gone through Minnesota to Wisconsin and appeared to be heading back toward Sioux Falls.
About three hours after the mother's report, Turning Heart was pulled over in Nobles County for a driving complaint. During the traffic stop, Turning Heart allegedly told the officer he had been at his girlfriend's family home with the child and that his vehicle was overheating. The officer noted that Turning Heart's vehicle did not appear to be overheating.
Because a small child was present, the two were far from home and Turning Heart didn't have a cell phone with him, the officer offered to take Turning Heart and the child to a hotel so they could rent a room. Minutes later, the officer was advised that Turning Heart was wanted by Sioux Falls police and arrested him.
Another officer arrived on the scene to take custody of the child , who was then returned to their mother.
Turning Heart was charged with two felony offenses: depriving another of parental rights and retaining a child in Minnesota after illegally removing the child from their home state. Each charge carries a maximum possible penalty of two years in prison and/or a $4,000 fine. If he's convicted, Turning Heart will be sentenced based on criminal history.
He remains in Nobles County Jail on bail set at $50,000 with conditions or $100,000 without.