COFFEEVILLE, Alabama - The man suspected of kidnapping a Longmont teenager was arrested in Alabama Thursday. The teen girl is safe, police said.
An alert was issued Wednesday for Thomas Ludwig Fechtler, 51, who is also known as Thomas Kitchen. Fechtler was believed to be traveling with the victim, a 16-year-old girl, according to Longmont DPS Commander Jeffery M. Satur.
Fechtler, and the teen, were found in Coffeeville, Alabama on Thursday.
"The suspect has been arrested and the young girl is safe," Longmont Police told Denver7. "We received information they were in Alabama and with assistance from the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, they located the vehicle and apprehended the suspect. He was arrested at approximately 10:50 a.m. in Coffeeville, Alabama."
--Police describe long-distance manhunt for kidnapping suspect--
Longmont Police Cmdr. Jeff Satur described a white-knuckle atmosphere in his department Thursday as investigators struggled to track Fechtler's vehicle carrying the Longmont girl across Alabama and communicate its rough location to local deputies trying to intercept the car 1,400 miles from Colorado.
Fechtler had apparently driven from Meridian, Mississippi into Alabama, and was now sticking to rural, back roads.
"When we're tracking this vehicle and we're just slightly behind it, it was crazy in here," Satur told Denver7. "Because we're calling all the sheriffs' departments down there and the Alabama State Police."
The state police were about to launch an airplane to search for the car when Clarke County sheriff's deputies spotted it in the tiny town of Coffeeville.
"It was crazy, chaos in here for about an hour -- but then it all came together," Satur recalled. "Deputies saw the vehicle, pulled him over and got him."
The kidnapped girl was found unharmed.
Satur said a Longmont police detective is flying to Alabama to meet with the kidnap victim and Clarke County deputies who have been assisting with search warrants and evidence collection.
"We had great support from a lot of people on this," Satur said. He thanked the FBI's Fort Collins Field Office and their field agents in Alabama along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Alabama State Police and the Clarke County Sheriff's Department.
Records show Fechtler previously lived in Alabama.
--Parents learned their daughter and Fechtler were having sex--
The investigation began on Wednesday, when a Longmont police detective was assigned a missing child case.
According to an arrest affidavit, the girl's mother told the detective that on Monday she learned her daughter was having a sexual relationship with Fletcher, an acquaintance who was spending time at the family's home.
The mother had a heated confrontation with her daughter, who admitted, "She was having sex with Tom."
The affidavit was heavily redacted by police officials to protect the identity of the juvenile victim.
It states that a family friend told the girl's father he heard Fechtler and the girl having sex and the friend confronted them about it.
The sexual encounters allegedly happened in Longmont between Oct. 1 and New Year's Eve 2015, police said.
Other people also told the detective they heard and saw things that convinced them the grown man and the underage girl were having sex. A relative said Fechtler and the girl were drinking a lot of alcohol -- apparently when her parents were not around.
After another person confronted Fechtler, he and the girl got into Flechtler's Toyota RAV4 and drove away.
At first family members thought Fechtler and the girl had gone to buy cigarettes or get something to eat. But repeated calls to Fechtler's cellphone went straight to voicemail, and the pair did not return home Monday night.
On Tuesday morning, someone -- likely a parent whose name is blacked out in the affidavit -- again called Fechtler's phone. Someone sent a text from Fechtler's phone stating, "Go to work." Fechtler stopped responding to calls to his phone.
The girl's family soon contacted police and filed a missing child report. On Wednesday, police obtained a felony arrest warrant for Fechtler for sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust, second-degree kidnapping and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.