Maci Lilley, a 4-year-old girl from northeast Montana, was found alive Sunday and in reportedly good health after being kidnapped Friday evening from a park in Wolf Point on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. A suspect, who is in custody, took Maci against her will, police said.
According to NBC News on Feb. 28, citing a Facebook post by the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Maci was “found at approximately 11:20 a.m. today a few miles outside Wolf Point.” The statement said “preliminary observations indicate she is in good health, but she is being evaluated by medical personnel to be sure.”
The FBI assumed control of the investigation and partnered with Border Patrol agents and local Tribal Police to find Maci. Military and private aircraft also were also used in the search.
A suspect, 20-year-old John “Billy” Lieba, was taken into custody on Saturday. Maci was found the following day. Officials said Lieba is not related to Maci or anyone in her family, though they suggested he may be a family friend.
On Friday, the Montana Department of Justice issued an Amber Alert for Maci Lilley. She was found by Undersheriff Corey Reum a few miles north of Wolf Point. Officials have reunited Maci with her family and are investigating the suspect for a possible motive.
Maci Lilley and Lieba are both residents of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, a 3,200-square mile land area that is home to the Assiniboine and Sioux nations. The reservation has approximately 10,000 members.
According to a report by Reuters news service, the great majority of child kidnappings in the United States are done by family members. “Each year, 800,000 children are reported missing in America, including some who are lost, injured, have run away from home or are abducted,” the site says. Of those abducted, 200,000 are taken by family members; many of those stem from custody battles.
Only an estimated 115 children are abducted by strangers in the U.S. each year. Of those, 57 percent are found alive, while 43 percent are either killed or are never found.