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Lehigh Acres man charged with kidnapping/false imprisonment

By Staff | May 8, 2017

A Lehigh Acres man remained in the Lee County Jail on Monday on multiple felony counts after police say he kidnapped and sexually assaulted an ex-girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter.

William Devon Cole, 33, of Paul Avenue in Lehigh Acres, was arrested on charges of kidnapping/false imprisonment of a child with sexual battery, sexual assault/battery victim under 12 years of age and cruelty to a child without great bodily harm. He also was charged with probation violation.

According to reports from both the Fort Myers Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the incident began May 2 around 6 p.m. after Cole began moving his belongings out of the home he had shared with the child’s mother. He asked to borrow the woman’s car so he could get tools at Home Depot and was told no. Moments later, the woman returned to the living room with some of Cole’s belongings and she found the car and her daughter missing. The mother told police that Cole, who’s not the child’s biological father, has no parental rights, the report states.

After trying to contact Cole several times by phone over the course of a few hours, the woman called the LCSO, which has jurisdiction in Lehigh, where the missing person complaint was completed, just before midnight. The family also went to Fort Myers to try to find Cole and the child.

Family members located the child and Cole late in the evening near Palm and Thomas streets, the release states, adding when the family yelled for Cole to release the child, he sped off.

Cole, allegedly a drug user, was said to be spotted at a known Fort Myers drug house, according to the LCSO report.

Meanwhile, Fort Myers Police then located the vehicle Cole was driving at Lafayette and Cranford streets with the child inside, not visibly injured. A witness handed one of the officers the keys to the vehicle that Cole had given him as law enforcement canvassed the area, reports state.

Cole was found just before 5 a.m. Wednesday, hiding in the backyard of a St. Charles Street home, according to the Fort Myers police report.

No AMBER Alert was issued for the missing child as officials said the incident did not meet the criteria.

According to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, the criteria is that the child must be under 18 years old, there must be clear indication of an abduction, a preliminary investigation by a law enforcement agency must conclude that the child’s life is in danger, there must be a detailed description of child, abductor and/or vehicle to broadcast to the public, and the activation must be recommended by the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction, which was the LCSO, which it declined to do.

Bone was set at $50,000 for the charge of kidnapping/ false imprisonment of a child with sexual battery: $75,000 for the charge of sexual assault/battery victim under 12 years of age; and $10,000 for the charge of cruelty to a child without great bodily harm.

No bond was set for the probation violation.