NORTON (CBS) – Norton Police say the man who was seen with the missing 6-year-old is charged with kidnapping and assault and battery.
The suspect has been identified as 32-year-old Avery Howard of Brockton.READ MORE: Omicron COVID Variant Detected In Massachusetts Woman
Howard was at the Easton Police Station when charged and is being sent to the New Bedford House of Corrections pending arraignment.
A date has not been determined for the arraignment which will be in Taunton District Court.
The Easton Police Department says they appreciate the help from Easton residents.
“The Easton Police Department would like to express our gratitude to the witnesses who were able to provide us with the information regarding Howard’s vehicle. We would also like to thank the agencies that helped us in locating and returning this child safely to her family,” police said.
Police in Norton found the missing girl in Avery’s car Friday afternoon and add that the suspect and the little girl have no connection.
In a series of tweets early Friday afternoon, Norton Police released a photo of the unnamed 6-year-old girl who had gone missing.
Norton Police say an alert officer spotted a car that matched the description of one that two witnesses saw near the girl earlier in the day.READ MORE: Wind Gusts Across Eastern Mass. Projected To Be 50 MPH Or Higher On Monday Night
The officer stopped the car and found the girl in the passenger seat.
Police believe the girl was likely in the car for about two hours.
“We don’t know the driver’s intentions,” said Norton Police Chief Brian Clark.
Before she was found, the girl had last been seen near the Shaw’s supermarket on Depot Street in Easton and Route 123 in Easton while pulling a small suitcase.
It appears the girl left home on her own after a possible disagreement over discipline.
The police chief said the search was “heart wrenching” for officers.
“The girl is okay and we are very happy for that,” said Clark.MORE NEWS: Martin Richard Foundation Holds 4th Annual MR8K Race In Boston On Saturday
Police add that the charge of assault and battery is standard when the victim is a child.