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Kidnapping subject faces Ripley charges

Friday, November 16, 2012

(Photo)
Jeffrey Shelton
DONIPHAN, Mo. -- Accused kidnapper and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Dean Shelton, was charged Wednesday with burglarizing a Ripley County home where he allegedly took his 5-year-old victim after snatching her.

Shelton, 45, of the 1000 block of Lela Street was charged with the Class B felonies of first-degree burglary and second-degree robbery by Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Miller.

According to the complaint filed with the court, on Oct. 24, Shelton is accused of entering an inhabitable structure located in Fairdealing, Mo., and possessed by Curtis D. Whitlock "for the purpose of committing child molestation therein," and he also allegedly forcibly stole car keys and a cellphone in Whitlock's possession.

Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Swindle issued a warrant for Shelton's arrest and ordered he be held without bond on the Ripley County charges.

Shelton, who has been held without bond in the Butler County jail since his Oct. 24 arrest, is charged with the Class A felony of child kidnapping, the Class B felony of first-degree burglary and the Class C felonies of second-degree domestic assault and felonious restraint in Butler County.

Shelton is accused of kidnapping Abigail Bertholf from her Wood Street home during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 24. He also is accused of assaulting and restraining his girlfriend, Christa Whitlock, when she allegedly found the girl in Shelton's Lela Street home.

The investigation into Abigail's case led authorities to Ripley County, where Shelton is accused of assaulting his girlfriend's father, Curtis Whitlock, after he allegedly found Shelton with the girl in his trailer.

"Shelton forcibly kicked the front door of the residence in and entered into the residence with a 5-year-old victim that he had abducted from Poplar Bluff, Mo., earlier in the morning hours," according to Ripley County Deputy Charles Mays' probable cause affidavit.

Shelton, Mays said, allegedly overpowered Curtis Whitlock and took the man's car keys and cellphone "in order to hinder Whitlock from contacting the authorities."

After allegedly fleeing Curtis Whitlock's property with Abigail, Shelton called 911 and was arrested about 15 minutes later at the intersection of U.S. 67 and Highway 160. Abigail was found safe in his SUV.

Shelton also had been charged earlier this month in Ripley County with the Class A felony of first-degree child molestation and the unclassified felony of armed criminal action for his alleged actions involving a 10-year-old Qulin, Mo., girl.

Four days before Shelton is accused of kidnapping Abigail, he allegedly kidnapped the Qulin girl at knife point and took her to Ripley County, where he is accused of sexually abusing her.

Authorities believe Shelton also took the Qulin girl to a trailer on Whitlock's property, located off of Highway M, which is north of Highway 160, on County Road M-2.

After allegedly gaining access by kicking in the door, Shelton is accused of molesting the girl, as well as taking explicit photographs of her.

Shelton allegedly dropped the girl off at a Qulin bank, and she walked home from there.

The girl's family made contact with the Butler County Sheriff's Department at about 7:45 p.m. that day and an investigation was started.

Because the abduction apparently was random, officers had no leads on a suspect until the victim identified Shelton from news photographs of him at the time of Abigail's alleged abduction.

Shelton is expected to face charges in Butler County in regard to the Qulin girl's alleged abduction, and additional charges, including at the federal level, are anticipated.



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