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Deputies arrest 3 Wyoming residents in Utah kidnapping case

Published: Monday, July 8 2013 5:45 p.m. MDT

Arlee Gail Smith

Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — Three people are in the Sweetwater County Detention Center, accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old girl from a summer camp operated by a Utah school district.

Tessa Mounts, Mary Marsh and Arlee Smith are each charged in Utah's 4th District Court with child kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and custodial interference, a second-degree felony.

On July 2, Mounts showed up at Mill Hollow Campground in Wasatch County and told an employee she was there to check her daughter out early, according to charging documents.

Mounts, however, doesn't have legal custody of her daughter. She voluntarily gave up her parental rights in 2009, and her daughter's grandparents were named the girl's legal guardians, court records show.

Mounts later called the girl's grandparents and told them she'd taken the child from the camp, which is operated by the Granite School District. The grandparents called the district and the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office was notified.

Deputies obtained a phone number for Mounts and called her in Wyoming. She told them she had "no intention of ever returning" her daughter, the charges state.

Working with detectives in Wyoming, Wasatch County deputies tracked Mounts to Wamsutter, Wyo., where she was living with Smith, who is a registered sex offender, and Marsh.

Sweetwater County deputies went to the home Friday and arrested the trio. Mounts' daughter told investigators Marsh and Smith were with her mother when she was taken from Mill Hollow Campground.

"Everybody was working around the clock on this one," Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner said.

He added that an Amber Alert was not issued in the case because the incident did not fit the criteria.

"We did not have enough information, due to the lack of paperwork, of court papers and whatnot, to file an Amber Alert," the sheriff said.

Ben Horsley, spokesman for the Granite School District, said Mounts provided camp employees with documents that showed she had a right to take her daughter.

"We did not have the legal authority to prevent the child from being taken," Horsley said.

He noted that the child's grandparents had filled out guardianship paperwork with the district but had not filled out any forms identifying the girl's mother as someone who could not have custody of her.

"We would just encourage individuals in these circumstances to double-check and make sure the correct paperwork is on file with the school," Horsley said.

Smith, 49, Marsh, 47, and Mounts, 32, have all waived extradition and are expected to be returned to Utah within the week.

Contributing: Angie Reed

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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