New Details Surrounding Grand Traverse County AMBER Alert
"We’re lucky we found her … you can potentially see where if she wouldn’t have been found last night she might not be with us today."
Two teenage girls are recovering from serious injuries and a 20 year old man is in jail, after a case that spawned an AMBER Alert over the weekend.
It turned out to be a frightening ordeal for two Grand Traverse County teenagers. Both of them are now safe, and the Sheriff’s Office believes they’ve arrested the person responsible. We now know it was TWO teenage girls – sisters – who disappeared with a 20 year old family friend in the early morning hours Sunday. That started a scary and sometimes violent day for the teens.
Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Department Capt. Randy Fewless says the sisters and the young man “had been acquaintances for quite some time. So they knew each other really well.” The Sheriff’s office says the two sisters, ages 13 and 15 were hoping to retrieve a backpack from 20 year old family friend Brandon Reyes. He showed up in his car to take them to it. Fewless says, “They got into it to get the property back. At that time he took them to a location nearby. Initially for the two girls to get in a car with this guy, maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal. Maybe there wasn’t any reason for them at that point in time to fear for their safety.” Fewless says investigators believe Reyes “took them to a remote location off Keystone Road which is where they were for basically all of the dark hours of the morning.”
And at some point the trio went to an empty construction site, where investigators believe there was an argument. The Sheriff’s office believes Reyes attacked the girls with a hammer. The 13 year old was allowed to leave after several hours – her older sister was not. Fewless says, “The 13 year old was allowed by the 20 year old to leave that location,” by around 10 am Sunday.
The younger sister walked about a mile back home, and her mom rushed her to the hospital. “When the deputies got there they were told by the 13 year old that she had been assaulted by a 20 year old male subject that was known to her as an acquaintance.” The girl had significant injuries, and told investigators that her older sister was also attacked – and was still with Reyes. That prompted the AMBER Alert on Sunday afternoon. “Throughout the day we had a lot of police officers from various agencies basically out looking.”
But Reyes and the 15 year old were hard to find. Fewless says, “They were kind of off the grid, in wooded areas and things like that so they wouldn’t be spotted.” Many tips through the AMBER Alert were from callers who thought they spotted the two – and Reyes’ Chrysler 300 – in all corners of the state. Captain Fewless says it’s too soon to know if any of those tips locally were legitimate, but so far investigators think Reyes stayed in Grand Traverse County with the 15 year old.
Around 10 pm Sunday, Fewless says a deputy patrolling Chums Corners spotted the vehicle parked – with the injured girl alone inside. “He pulled in the parking lot of a business and approached the car. He was able to see our missing 15 year old female in the car. She was not responsive to him.” The deputy finally got the teen’s attention and the girl unlocked the car. “He was able to get her attention eventually, have her unlock the vehicle. He was able to remove her from the vehicle and put her in the patrol car. Literally as the time he was getting her in the car and shutting the door he turned around, the suspect was exiting the business at that point.”
The Sheriff’s Office says the deputy confronted Reyes – who surrendered. The teen was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. “The injuries sustained by the 15 year old we do believe were life-threatening. Had the deputy not found her at that point in time, and they left there and went to another secluded area, there’s the possibility that she may not have made it.”
The sheriff’s office says both girls had head injuries and injuries to their upper body from being attacked with the hammer. And they say Reyes also had a handgun which was pointed at the teens during the day. Captain Fewless says a hammer was recovered at a construction site, and a gun was seen in Reyes’ car sitting out in the open.
Fewless adds that the 13 year old suffered serious injuries, but has been released from the hospital. Her sister, however, is expected to require more treatment. “The 15 year old has even more significant injuries and will probably be at the hospital for several days.”
Investigators are still finishing their reports but plan to request felony charges, including felonious assault, kidnapping, and torture. Reyes won’t be arraigned until the Prosecutor determines charges.