Missing girl found hidden under staircase
(CNN) -- A 15-year-old girl who had been missing for nearly a year was found Wednesday, locked in a small hidden room under a staircase in a West Hartford, Connecticut, home, police said.
The discovery was unexpected, but "of great relief to investigators, who feared the worst based on the evidence compiled to date," Capt. Jeffrey L. Blatter of the Bloomfield, Connecticut, Police Department said in a written statement.
At an afternoon news conference, Blatter refused to identify the girl, who he said had been missing since June 16, 2006.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists a Danielle Erica Cramer, 15, as missing from Bloomfield, Connecticut, since June 14, 2006.
Two people were arrested: Adam Gault, 41, and Ann Murphy, 40, described as Gault's common-law wife. Both lived at the home along with other people, Blatter told reporters. The two face charges including unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, custodial interference and risk of injury to a minor.
Other arrests are expected, Blatter said. Gault was being held on $500,000 bond, and Murphy on $100,000 bond.
Authorities said they were not sure the girl -- who they said had a "tough" life involving drug use and had a history of running away from home -- was being held against her will. Blatter said Gault has had previous involvement with juvenile females, "something very similar to what's going on now with this girl ... inappropriate relationships."
Gault was not charged in the previous cases, however, because "there was some reluctance to have people come forward with information," he said.
Gault was a business associate of the girl's family, and she may have considered him a friend, Blatter said. "There's a question as to what her relationship was with this 40-year-old to start with."
He pointed out, however, that it would be easy for an older man to interfere with a teenager's thinking.
"We can all assume that a 14-year-old under the influence of a 40-year-old was harmed in some way," Blatter said.
Gault, who police said runs his own animal-training business, had been interviewed several times in connection with the girl's disappearance, and had denied involvement, Blatter said, although he was still considered a suspect.
Police would not say whether Gault and Murphy were cooperating with the investigation. Another child, a 15-year-old boy, lived in the house and was placed in the custody of child welfare workers, authorities said.
The girl was being evaluated by medical personnel, Blatter said, and authorities including child welfare workers would determine the best placement for her. "She is physically OK," he said.
A large contingent of police arrived at the home in West Hartford about 9:30 a.m. ET Wednesday to serve two search warrants in the girl's disappearance: one for a DNA swab and the other for evidence in the case, Blatter said.
Despite the girl's history of running away, he said, investigators had found "bits and pieces of information that suggested foul play," and authorities were afraid the girl had been the victim of a homicide.
While police were at the house, an investigator pushed a large dresser aside and found the small locked room, police said. Blatter described it as a closet. The girl was seated inside, but there was no evidence, such as bedding, to suggest that was where she had been kept, police said. Investigators at the scene noted she was pale and wondered whether she had seen any sunlight, Blatter said.
Things found in the home, however, would not suggest that a 14-year-old would have found a safe, comfortable environment, he said, but would not elaborate.
Missing girl found hidden under staircase - CNN.com