Police: Kidnapping suspect posed online as a 17-year-old

Police: Kidnapping suspect posed online as a 17-year-old

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WHITEHALL — The Missouri men who have been charged with kidnapping two teenage girls from Whitehall remained in a jail in Ohio on Tuesday as Washington County officials began the process to have them extradited to New York.

Bradley R. Mittler, 24, and Brian F. Hafer, 36, have been charged with felony kidnapping, and warrants have been issued for their arrest in Whitehall. They will be charged as fugitives from justice in the coming days, which will start the extradition process to have them brought back to New York.

The two were arrested late Friday, after they allegedly took two Whitehall girls, ages 14 and 15, to the Midwest after one met Mittler online and he traveled east to meet her.

The girls were believed to have accompanied them willingly, inaccurately telling parents they were going to Maine with another parent. But under state law, they could not legally consent to accompany the men because of their ages.

State Police and Whitehall Police investigated and ultimately determined the identity of the men who the girls were with. By that point they were on the road in Indiana, but the men turned their truck around and headed back east, eventually dropping the girls off at a restaurant in southwestern Ohio.

Mittler later contacted State Police and turned himself in to police in Monroe, Ohio.

Police determined that Mittler posed online as a 17-year-old, at one point providing one of the girls with a fake birth certificate and high school report card to try to show her he was a teenager.

Mittler and Hafer were believed to have been staying at a motel in Queensbury for several days before they convinced the girls to leave with them. Additional charges are possible in Warren County as well as Ohio.

Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said how quickly the two suspects are returned to Washington County will depend on whether they are charged with crimes in Ohio as well.

“At this point, everything is up in the air,” he said.

In addition to the kidnapping count, police also plan to file charges against Mittler for alleged sexual contact with one of the girls.

The girls remained in Ohio with family members as of early this week. One had to be treated at a local hospital after she was turned over to police.

Both Mittler and Hafer were being held in Warren County Jail in Ohio, pending further court action.

Don Lehman covers police and court matters and Warren County government. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or dlehman@poststar.com


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