A runaway 17-year-old Spokane girl missing for three months was found in the RV of a 53-year-old Spirit Lake resident by police on July 13.
Michael R. Deherrera, 53, has been arrested and charged with sexual battery of a minor and providing shelter to a runaway juvenile, and is in Kootenai County Jail on $200,000 bond.
Deherrera confirmed to police that the juvenile girl had been living with him in a RV in the backyard of the home his mother lived in for several months, according to a police press release.
In a police report, Deherrera denied the allegations, but the 17-year-old’s story told a different narrative.
Police made contact with Deherrera at his home in Spirit Lake after receiving a dispatch call about a potential missing teen at the residence.
When police arrived and questioned Deherrera, he said that he was unaware that the 17-year-old was a runaway juvenile and that they had met months earlier on Craigslist when he asked for help delivering on Door Dash.
Deherrera told police she noticed that he was disabled, and that the girl helped him with his deliveries due to his disabilities.
Deherrera told police that his relationship with the girl was not romantic nor sexual, and said he did not know what the term “grooming” meant, according to the report.
The police report said that the officer suspected that Deherrera was lying, and officers were then able to make contact with the 17-year-old who was living in a RV on the backside of the home. Deherrera’s mother lived inside the home.
The girl told police that the two had actually met through the social media app Whisper, a form of anonymous social media that allows users to post and share photo and video messages anonymously.
The police report states that the 17-year-old said that the two later met in person at a hotel and then stayed together for four to five weeks in a hotel room. The girl said that they stayed in a hotel room because Deherrera didn’t want her to get suspicious.
The young girl said she then moved in with Deherrera in the RV in the backyard and began helping with his Door Dash deliveries, according to the police report.
After the officer told the 17-year-old that police were there to help and then asked if anything sexual had happened with her and Deherrera, the 17-year-old said, “I’ve seen pretty much everything sexual there is,” according to the report.
Police then arrested Deherrera and are considering bringing charges against Deherrera’s mother as well. When asked by police if she thought it was strange her son was living with a juvenile in the backyard, the mother responded that she didn’t get involved in her son’s relations with the girl.
The investigation is ongoing.
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