SALT LAKE CITY – The parents of a missing Utah teen say they believe their daughter is the 13-year-old girl who was shot and killed in a weekend police shootout in Port Orchard, Wash., at a Walmart parking lot.
Authorities are awaiting an autopsy report and have not yet identified the girl who was killed Sunday alongside Anthony Martinez, 31, of Utah.
The Deseret News of Salt Lake City reports that the missing Clearfield girl's family believes she fled a South Salt Lake foster home with Martinez on Jan. 18.
Family spokesman Chris Bateman said Martinez was a friend of the girl's mother. The family had not seen Martinez in years but crossed paths with him last April, Bateman said.
Last fall, the girl ran away with Martinez, leaving a note for her family, Bateman said. They were later found in Sacramento, Calif. The family didn't know the two were in contact until the girl ran away, he said.
After she was returned home, the teen was placed in foster care in order to keep her from seeing Martinez, Bateman said.
In October, Davis County prosecutors charged Martinez in Utah's 2nd District Court with one count of first-degree felony child kidnapping. He was free on $25,000 bail at the time of the shooting. A court hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday.
The exact nature of the relationship between the girl and Martinez is unclear. Martinez should not have been with the teen and her family didn't want her to have contact with him, Bateman said.
Martinez' brother, Barrett Martinez, on Monday said his brother was only trying to help the girl, who was going through a difficult time.
"I don't believe that. I think it's a complete lie. He kidnapped this little girl," Bateman said. "She might have gone with him, but I think there was some brainwashing involved."
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com
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