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Missing Louisiana teen rescued, kidnapping suspect arrested in Aransas Pass

The 14-year-old girl was found under a bench at an Aransas Pass park, officials said.

ARANSAS PASS, Texas — A 14-year-old girl that was missing out of Louisiana is safe this morning after she was found, along with her suspected kidnapper, in Aransas Pass on Tuesday. 

Vernon Parish, Louisiana, authorities called Aransas Pass Police Department around noon Tuesday, Oct. 4 to let them know about the two possibly being in the area due to them trying to use a stolen bank card at a gas station there, a statement from APPD said. 

While officers were investigating, a call came in to dispatch from a concerned citizen stating a man in his 20s and a very young girl were at a park in Aransas Pass and seemed suspicious. The caller told the dispatcher the girl looked "out of it" and was sleeping on a bench. The caller reported a large injury seen on the man's leg, the statement said.

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Officers went to the area and confirmed it was the missing teen. The girl was found laying under the bench and the man left the scene before cops could arrive, officials said. 

"The female was laying down," APPD officer Andrew Ford told 3NEWS. "She looked to be sleeping. She was very tired. The male wasn't there at the time. Shortly after, he arrived and officers were able to make contact with him and they were able to put him into custody."

A short time later, officers saw the man, who has been identified as Joseph Phillips, 26, on a motorcycle on E. Johnson St. Phillips was taken into custody during a traffic stop.

Phillips had outstanding warrants for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, and second-degree kidnapping, a felony, out of the Parish of Vernon, Louisiana. 

The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s office, along with Texas Child Protective Services, were called so they could return the girl to her home.

Aransas Pass grandmother Sharon Cain is glad one of her neighbors had the foresight to call the police.

"God bless her. Or him," Cain said. "Whoever it was that found this baby. I mean, she's 14, but she's still a baby." 

She also said she hopes this person gets some well-deserved recognition.

"I hope that this person is recognized for the hero that she is, because it could have definitely ended up a lot worse," she said.

Ford, who also is a school resource officer, said this is why police tell students and parents to always be aware.

"It's one of those things that you really do want," he said. "We tell a lot of our citizens -- 'Please report anything that looks out of sorts or suspicious.' "

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