WEST VALLEY CITY — Police here are investigating a bizarre case of a man who held hostage three teenage girls who were skipping school Thursday — possibly in an attempt to teach them a lesson.

The girls were not physically harmed and were eventually freed, police say. But the man was charged Friday with three counts of kidnapping, a second-degree felony. He was being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on no bail.

Three 14-year-old girls were walking near 4450 South and 5000 West about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The girls were playing hooky, so when they saw a police officer driving down the street, they hid underneath the stairwell of a nearby residence, said West Valley Police Capt. Tom McLachlan.

That's when the owner of the home walked out and "somehow brought the girls inside the house," McLachlan said.

From there, the man's behavior grew increasingly strange.

"He kept them in his apartment for several hours against their will. He wouldn't let them go," McLachlan said.

While the teens were in the house, "the suspect took photos of the juveniles, wrote down their parent information, their phone numbers and addresses," according to documents from the Salt Lake County Jail.

The girls were not directly threatened or touched inappropriately, McLachlan said. But they were scared about what might happen to them, especially when the man started talking about homicide, he said. The man also questioned the girls about why they were truant.

"I don't know what was in his mind," McLachlan said. "I don't know if he was trying to scare them and have them not be truant anymore."

Eventually the man let the girls go. They ran home and told their parents what had happened. The parents called police. After interviewing the man, he was arrested and booked into jail.

Detectives said the man, 58, lives alone.

E-mail: [email protected]