Missing Marion boy safe

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
FOUND ALIVE IN GEORGIA ATLANTA - The 11-year-old boy believed to have been taken from Florida by a convicted child molester was recovered in a wooded area in northwest Georgia.
"The child has been recovered," FBI spokesman Steven Lazarus said Friday evening. "He is safe, and he is OK. The adult subject is still at large. We believe he is possibly in the same wooded area."
Frederick Fretz, 42, picked up the boy, Adam Kirkirt, at Dunnellon Elementary School on Tuesday, police said. Their drive north ended when their car stalled on an exit ramp off Interstate 75 north of Atlanta.
The discovery of the car Friday morning triggered the search for the two in Georgia. The boy was found less than 12 hours later, about two miles from the car.
The boy ran to police officers when officers spotted Fretz and began to chase him into the woods, said Maj. Mike Powell of the Emerson Police Department.
Powell said his department received a call when Fretz and the boy went to a store to buy a gallon of water and some candy.
"We found the child maybe 200 yards from the gas station," Powell said. "Two of my officers were chasing the suspect through the woods and the boy was running toward us."
Powell said the search for Fretz was continuing Friday night with officers from Cobb, Cherokee and Bartow counties aided by a searchlight provided by a Georgia Bureau of Investigation helicopter.
Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean said about 200 law enforcement agents, including Marion County deputies who traveled to the area, were taking part in the search.
"They've got him surrounded, they're closing in the perimeter," he said. "It's just a matter of time." Powell said Adam "looked fine."
The boy's father, Ivert Kirkirt, said he was going to Georgia to reunite with his son.
"I'm going to hug him and kiss him and tell him I love him," Kirkirt said.
Authorities said a reunion between the father and son would wait until today.
The boy's mother, Dorraine Kirkirt, said she talked to her son on the phone.
"He wasn't scared," she said. "He made sure I knew he was OK. I thought that was very big of him. I'm relieved and grateful, very grateful."
"I cannot even describe how I feel," Dorraine Kirkirt said of the news her son was safe. "I'm gratified, very, very gratified to everyone who helped search for him, and their prayers."
Fretz was living with Ivert Kirkirt and the boy. Ivert Kirkirt says Fretz never told him he had been convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy in Pennsylvania in 1991.
The men had recently served time together in the Marion County Jail and realized that they had known each other as teens in New Jersey. Ivert Kirkirt had invited Fretz to move into his Ocala mobile home when Fretz was released in October after serving a sentence for domestic battery and marijuana possession. The boy joined them in December.
"I just hope they put him away so he never does this again," Kirkirt said.
"I hope he burns in hell," Kirkirt said. "If you've got kids, don't trust them with anybody," Kirkirt said. "Keep them by your side."
Deputies took Ivert Kirkirt to the Marion County Sheriff's Office so he could talk to his son on the telephone in a controlled setting.
Earlier, Kirkirt said he was questioned by investigators for nine hours. He said was given a lie detector test, which investigators told him he had failed.
Kirkirt said investigators tried to get him to admit to being part of a plan to try to kidnap his son so he could have custody of the boy. He said he is going through a divorce with his estranged wife.
Police say Fretz and the boy left the car at the end of an interstate exit ramp in Emerson, Ga., 40 miles northwest of Atlanta.
"It appears it broke down. There was a lot of antifreeze under the car," Powell said, adding that the car's license plate also had been removed.
The FBI took over the examination of the car, and search dogs were being brought in from Cobb County Sheriff's Department, Powell said.
Authorities believe Fretz may have intended to set up a campsite at Red Top Mountain park near the area where the car was abandoned.
Ivert Kirkirt had been under house arrest after serving time for probation violation on an aggravated battery charge and couldn't take his son to school because he could leave home only for work and church.
Fretz regularly drove Kirkirt to work and took Adam to school and picked him up.
Fretz left a voicemail message for Kirkirt on Tuesday afternoon shortly after he picked up the boy.
"We are in the middle of nowhere. The only reason I'm able to call you is someone came out on a dirt bike and had a cell phone," Fretz said on the message. "We are broke down, and we need you to come find us. I don't want to spend the night in the car. I don't know where the hell we are."
Wednesday morning, authorities issued an Amber Alert to notify the public and other law enforcement agencies once they learned about Fretz's Pennsylvania conviction.
He registered as a sex offender when he moved to Arizona in the mid-1990s, but never registered as a sex offender when he later moved to Florida, a felony that could have kept him in jail longer when he was arrested in September.

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