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Man charged in Liberty Park child kidnapping investigation

Published: Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:16 p.m. MDT

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SALT LAKE CITY — A man who investigators say walked off with a 6-year-old girl during Pioneer Day festivities at Liberty Park but was spotted before getting too far was charged Tuesday.

Trevor Daniel Merkley, 42, who is believed to be homeless and has an address listed in court documents as "unknown," was charged in 3rd District Court with one count of child kidnapping, a first-degree felony.

About 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Merkley approached a 6-year-old girl at the park, "grabbed (the girl) by the shoulder, took her away from her family and began to walk away with her," according to charging documents.

A family friend saw what was happening and attempted to pull the young girl away from Merkley, but he refused to let go, the charges state.

Bail for Merkley, who has been in the Salt Lake County Jail since his arrest, was set at $150,000.

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.

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