Police say an eight-year-old girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a knife-wielding stranger in west Edmonton two weeks ago.
Now her alleged attacker is behind bars and investigators have revealed what led them to arrest 37-year-old Wade Stene on Saturday.
“Our complainant was amazing,” Det. Cherie Jerebic said. “She was able to clearly detail what happened to her through the offence and with that, we were able to put a plea out to the public for help in which all the community came together.”
Jerebic said McQueen neighbourhood community members cooperated with Edmonton police by providing tips along with car and house surveillance videos.
“There was a huge buy-in,” Jerebic said. “There was surveillance from all angles and all different parts of the community that helped assist us in determining who the accused was.”
Police say the girl was physically forced into a car at 5:30 p.m. on March 10, then dropped off about 40 minutes later in her neighbourhood, where her father, who was out searching, found her.
The detective confirmed Stene and the girl had never met or had any interactions with each other prior to March 10. She called stranger sexual assaults and stranger abductions “very rare”.
“It was purely random,” Jerebic said.
Jerebic spoke with the little girl’s mother this morning to see how the child is coping.
“She is doing okay,” Jerebic said. “She has a wonderful family who is supporting her through this and the family themselves have a lot of resources helping them get through this event.”
No previous criminal record
According to court documents, Wade Stene has no previous criminal record and Edmonton police say he was not known to them until this investigation.
Stene faces eight criminal charges all listing the offence date as March 10, including kidnapping, sexual assault with a weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon, threats causing death or bodily harm plus making and possessing child pornography.
When asked about the child pornography charges, Jerebic said they are still investigating those offences, adding they don’t have any complainants right now other than the eight-year-old girl.
On March 12, Edmonton police issued a news release seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect.
Police said Stene reportedly lived and worked in multiple locations in Alberta and British Columbia, including Drayton Valley, Fort McMurray, Vernon and Kelowna.
Police said detectives are concerned there may be additional complainants in other cities and towns. Police have released photos of Stene and are asking any additional complainants to contact their local police.
Since issuing that request, Jerebic said that so far, they have not received any other complaints or tips.