MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – A former Baptist school principal accused of running off with an 11-year-old girl was captured today by the FBI after the two were found together in a Las Vegas-area hotel.
William A. Beith, 28, was arrested on federal charges of coercing and enticing a minor into sexual acts and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes, said FBI agent Doug Garrison in Indianapolis.
Both Beith and the girl were safe, Garrison said. He said did not have any other details of the capture.
“The family is very, very relieved and very grateful that their prayers have been answered,” said Jerry Kaifetz, a friend of the girl’s family who was at their home when the FBI called with the news.
The sixth-grader from Gary was reported missing May 1 after an argument with her parents at a discount store. An employee told police she was crying and seen running in the store parking lot. Her parents believe she may have telephoned Beith, the former principal of Liberty Baptist Academy in Lake Station, about 40 miles southeast of Chicago.
The girl’s parents and Beith’s parents had received separate letters from the two on Monday. The letters were postmarked Friday in Oklahoma City.
FBI agent Charles S. Porucznik in Merrillville said the girl’s letter was short and upbeat, “just letting her mom and dad know she’s OK.”
The girl’s father said his daughter wrote that she was “all right, that she has new clothes, and is sorry that she’s putting us through this.”
But he added: “She thinks this is OK. She thinks she’s in love. I’m not even sure she understands what’s wrong.”
Beith told his parents how remorseful he was, asked them to apologize to everyone at the school and said without elaboration that his actions had been misunderstood.
“He wrote about how he had to run very fast,” Porucznik said.
The Baptist school recently sent a letter to parents saying Beith was no longer employed at the school.
Beith was arrested in 1990 and was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after being caught partially undressed with a 15-year old girl.
He became Liberty Baptist’s principal in 1998 when his father resigned after being arrested for allegedly soliciting a male undercover police officer for oral sex.
Charges against both Beith and his father were dismissed after they underwent counseling.
Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.