Man, 53, charged in kidnapping of 14-year-old girl
STILLWATER, Minn. -- A 53-year-old man is in custody and charged with kidnapping after allegedly driving to New York to pick up a 14-year-old girl he’d met on a telephone chat line and bringing her to his home in Landfall, according to Washington County authorities.
The girl was found after she called police and disclosed her location.
“She was scared,” Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton said. “When our officers first made contact with her, she was frightened.”
Michael Angelo Goerlich, 53, has been charged with two counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment.
The girl was reported missing in Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday, Hutton said.
She called Rochester police Tuesday and gave them the Landfall address. Rochester police then called the Washington County sheriff’s office, which immediately sent officers.
The girl was taken into protective custody.
Goerlich was arrested on site.
“As we understand it, she and (Goerlich) have had contact with each other over a chat line. Some of that conversation talked about this individual going up to New York to meet her,” Hutton said. “We do know that. He did go to New York. He did meet with her. And he did transport her back to his residence in Landfall.”
According to a criminal complaint, Goerlich and the girl, identified as A.G., made arrangements to meet Sunday at an intersection in Rochester.
“While in his vehicle they discussed returning to Minnesota,” the complaint said. “A.G. stated she did not want to go with him to Minnesota, but did agree to go with him.”
While they were driving to Minnesota, the girl’s cellphone rang and Goerlich took it and broke it, she reportedly told police.
They arrived at Goerlich’s mobile home about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and he left shortly after to go to work, the complaint said.
Goerlich’s roommate said he woke up about 10:40 a.m. and spoke briefly with the girl. When Goerlich returned from work, the roommate said he asked Goerlich who she was.
“Goerlich informed him that she was a 19-year-old co-worker,” the complaint said. “(The roommate) indicated that he did not believe A.G. was 19 years old and Goerlich admitted ‘she doesn’t look nineteen.’ ”
Even if the girl left New York with Goerlich of her own volition, she was not legally able to consent because she’s a juvenile, the sheriff said.
“You can’t say ‘willingly’ because a 14-year-old cannot consent for something like that to occur,” Hutton said.
One of the kidnapping charges against Goerlich stems from his alleged intent to commit criminal sexual conduct and the other from deprivation of parental rights.
Some media have identified the girl by name. Hutton said he could not confirm her identity.
The Pioneer Press generally does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault.
Hutton said Thursday afternoon that the girl was “still in a safe place in Washington County” and that she would be reunited with her family shortly.
He said the investigation is continuing and it’s unclear whether Goerlich will be charged with anything else.
Goerlich does not appear to have a criminal record in Minnesota.
Neighbors said that Goerlich, who went by Mike, kept to himself and that no one knew there was a girl in his mobile home.
Things were quiet at his home until police showed up Tuesday, said next-door neighbor Leon Hunter.
“Nobody knows what was going on,” said Hunter, who’s lived there for 22 years. “I have never seen any evidence of a third party. I thought it was just the two guys.”
Hunter said Goerlich was a delivery driver and that he moved in five or six years ago. Goerlich’s family had lived in the home before him, Hunter said.
Minnesota birth records show Goerlich has a 12-year-old daughter. The girl’s mother, reached by phone Thursday, declined to comment.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.