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Missing Brunswick teen found safe in Northfield Village

by Briana Barker | Reporter Published: September 21, 2016 12:00 AM

Northfield Village -- A missing teenage girl was found safe by Northfield Village Police Sept. 13, nearly 14 hours after a statewide Amber Alert was issued.

Northfield Village Police Sgt. Brian Zajac was patrolling in the Ledge Road area near the construction area between Lee Eaton Elementary and Route 8 when he saw a vehicle turn around and not use a turn signal or stop at the stop sign, said Police Chief Mark Wentz.

"He was just going to pull him over initially for the traffic offense but then the vehicle caught his eye," Wentz said. "The window was partially down and at that time he saw the male driver and the female and knew the vehicle matched the description of the Amber Alert vehicle that everyone was looking for. So he got behind the vehicle to make a traffic stop and the guy took off on him."

Wentz said the vehicle's license plates had been changed and police later found the original plates described in the Amber Alert in the bed of the truck.

He said the driver was 40-year-old Ravenna resident William Roberts, the victim's father. He led Zajac on a high-speed chase from Ledge Road, down North Bedford Road, Route 82, South Bedford Road, Highland Road and Olde Eight. Wentz said the chase lasted about five minutes as the vehicles were traveling at speeds from 55 mph up to 80 mph. He added traffic was very light and most drivers pulled over or out of the way to make way for the speeding vehicles.

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Wentz said Roberts evenutally stopped, opened the car door and laid down on the ground and was arrested without further incident.

"Luckily no one was injured," Wentz said.

Macedonia police assisted when the chase came through the city, freeing up Zajac to focus on the driver, Wentz said. Sagamore Hills Police say they were on standby and ready to assist if necessary.

Northfield Village Mayor Jesse Nehez said he is thankful for the cooperation of law enforcement in surrounding communities and is proud of the way Zajac handled the situation.

"Council and myself couldn't be more proud of Sgt. Zajac and how he handled this matter, and the department as a whole," Nehez said at Village Council's Sept. 14 meeting.

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The search began after an Amber Alert was sent out at approximately 11:30 p.m. Sept. 12 for the 15-year-old Brunswick girl. It was canceled around 2 p.m., after Roberts was taken into custody.

According to the Attorney General's website, Roberts is a registered sex offender who was convicted of gross sexual imposition in April 2005.

He is currently facing fifth-degree felony drug charges, according to a complaint filed Aug. 19 with the Portage County Municipal Court.

Brunswick Police Lt. Brian Ohlin said the teen had been staying in the area with a foster family after Portage County Job and Family Services removed her from her father's custody the week prior to the incident.

He said the girl's foster mother came to the Brunswick Police station, reported her missing just before 8 p.m. Sept. 12 and told police the girl had not come home from school.

According to a Sept. 13 press release by Brunswick police, two felony counts of kidnapping were authorized by the Medina County Prosecutor's Office on Roberts and he will be held on those charges.

Roberts was taken to Summit County Jail by Northfield Village Police who are also charging him with felony fleeing charges.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432


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