DeKalb County, TN – A police K9 is being hailed as a hero after he helped lead investigators to the location where a kidnapped six-year-old girl was being held by her abductor.
Investigators had been searching for six-year-old Kinzleigh Reeder since May 26, when she was allegedly abducted by her father, Nicholas Reeder, the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) told WNYW.
The little girl was considered to be in danger, police said.
The DCSO narrowed the search to the Pea Ridge area and honed in on a location behind a home on June 25.
That’s when they brought in Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) K9 Fred, a bloodhound, and gave him an article of Nicholas Reeder’s clothing, WNYW reported.
K9 Fred tracked the suspect from the residence to a burn pile, then went to a truck and a nearby outbuilding, police said.
He honed in on the door and the doorknob of the outbuilding before sitting down to alert his handler that Nicholas Reeder was inside, WNYW reported.
The suspect had barricaded the door from inside the shed, but police were able to break through the door and into the outbuilding.
They found Kinzleigh Reeder and her father in the rear portion of the structure behind blankets, WNYW reported.
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RCSO K9 Deputy Richard Tidwell said K9 Fred and the little girl were elated to see one another.
“He licked her face and she gave him a big hug,” Deputy Tidwell told WNYW.
Investigators said the shed had no air conditioning or ventilation and that Kinzleigh Reeder and her abductor had been using a five-gallon bucket as a toilet.
They also had very little food and water, according to police.
The little girl was taken into protective custody and K9 Fred was given a special reward of chicken and pizza crust, WNYW reported.
“I praised him and loved on him,” Deputy Tidwell told the news outlet. “I pulled the chicken reward out of my pocket. He ate the chicken and wanted to meet other people as if to say, ‘Look what I’ve done.’”
Nicholas Reeder was arrested on charges of outstanding warrants for custodial interference and failure to appear, as well as a new offenses of child abuse or neglect, WNYW reported.
His bond was set at $175,000.
DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray said the DCSO and numerous other law enforcement agencies across middle Tennessee spent hundreds of manpower hours tirelessly searching for the missing girl, WJLE reported.
“The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department along with other agencies from across middle Tennessee have diligently worked around the clock looking for Kinzleigh Reeder,” Sheriff Ray said. “Throughout the investigation, there have been airplanes equipped with thermal imaging and drones used in the Pea Ridge Community.”
Sheriff Ray said Kinzleigh Reeder had previously been removed from Nicholas Reeder’s custody after investigators found them camped out beneath a bridge on a cold, rainy night in mid-March, WJLE reported.
The creek water was also rising at the time.
He was arrested on charges of child abuse and neglect and his daughter was temporarily placed into the care of a family member through the Department of Children’s Services (DCS).
DCS gave Nicholas Reeder permission to live with that same family member after he was released from jail, Sheriff Ray said.
DCS reported Kinzleigh Reeder as missing on June 21, WJLE reported.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) determined the abduction did not meet the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert or an Endangered Child Alert, Sheriff Ray said.
The TBI did issue a Missing Child Alert poster, according to the sheriff.