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Habitual offender arrested in alleged attempted kidnapping

Published: Friday, July 25 2014 6:06 p.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, July 25 2014 6:06 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who police say tried to walk off with a 6-year-old girl during Pioneer Day festivities at Liberty Park on Thursday was arrested for investigation of attempted kidnapping.

About 7:30 p.m., Trevor Daniel Merkley, 42, grabbed a 6-year-old girl's shoulder and started to guide her away from her family, said Salt Lake police detective Dennis McGowan.

The man got as far as the next carnival booth when a family friend saw what was happening and tried to stop him. Even when the friend confronted the man, he continued to talk to the young girl and tried to convince her to keep walking, McGowan said.

Another family member then found a nearby Salt Lake police officer, who questioned Merkley and arrested him.

Merkley is a habitual offender in the city, mainly committing misdemeanor offenses such as public intoxication and disorderly conduct, according to Utah state court records. He has nearly 150 case entries since 2003.

In 2014, he has been charged in seven cases with alcohol or trespassing related offenses. Some of those were ultimately dismissed.

— Pat Reavy

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