A Colorado man who was arrested and charged for the attempted kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl was turned in by his own parents after police released images of the suspect and his vehicle.
Diego James Gettler, 28, was arrested Monday after he allegedly grabbed the girl outside the STEM Launch K-8 school in the city of Thornton, Colorado, around 7:30 a.m. on September 23, the Thornton Police Department said. He was charged Thursday with second-degree kidnapping.
The girl told police her mother had just dropped her off at school, and she was sitting on the school steps when Gettler approached her and asked her if she attended the school, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by People magazine. The girl said Gettler walked behind her and up the steps, then turned around and walked back towards her.
“The male made her feel uncomfortable, so she stood up as he was walking back down the stairs,” the affidavit reads. “The male grabbed [her] at this point, in a manner she described as him wrapping his hands and arms around her waist from behind.”
She began to scream and Gettler covered her mouth with his hands, according to the affidavit.
The girl said she began grabbing at him and was able to pull down his mask, which investigators said spooked him and prompted him to flee.
Police found surveillance footage allegedly showing the suspect parking a damaged gray Saturn Aura near the school before approaching the campus and attempting to abduct the girl. The video later shows him running off and climbing into the passenger side of his vehicle and driving away.
That same day, police released photos from the surveillance footage of the suspect, who was wearing a black sweatshirt, black pants and black shoes. Images of the vehicle with damage to its driver’s side were also made available to the public.
Gettler’s parents went to the Thornton police station on September 26 and told detectives they believed their son may have been the suspect “based on photographs from the surveillance that was released, as well as his vehicle matching the unique characteristics of the suspect vehicle in this case,” according to the affidavit.
“[His parents] stated Diego owns and operates a gray Saturn Aura which has damage on the driver side” caused by an earlier car accident. “[His parents] further confirmed Diego has to enter the vehicle from the passenger side,” the affidavit states.
Detectives said Gettler’s cellphone pinged to the area during the time of the incident.
Gettler was arrested in his car outside a Home Depot in Parker, Colorado, on September 26 and was booked at the Adams County Jail. He is scheduled to appear in court on October 5.