Hernando, Citrus men accused of taking teen from state custody

BROOKSVILLE — Two men from Brooksville and a Homosassa man face charges of interfering with child custody after they were accused of taking a 14-year-old girl from the custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

Paul Wyatt, 39, and John Wyatt, 36, who are brothers from Brooksville, were arrested Friday and booked into the Hernando County Jail. On Monday, John Wyatt remained behind bars on no-bond status because of a probation violation while Paul Wyatt was released Saturday after posting $10,000 bail.

Stephen Garren, 37, was arrested Thursday and taken to the Citrus County Jail. It wasn't clear if Garren remained in custody Monday.

According to the arrest reports, the Wyatts took away the teen as a favor to their friend George Hendricks, who was arrested in February after the girl told Hernando detectives that she had been sexually abused over the course of three months. Hendricks, 41, of Brooksville remains in custody at the county jail and is charged with 35 counts of capital sexual battery.

The girl ran away from a foster home in Ocala and was reported as a missing person by Ocala police on April 7, according to the reports. She allegedly stayed with one of John Wyatt's friends in the Brookhaven apartment complex for 10 days and then was taken to another home on Colchester Avenue in Spring Hill.

The Wyatts allegedly had regular communications with Hendricks during this time. According to the report, during a recorded jail phone conversation April 15, Hendricks asked John Wyatt about the girl's whereabouts. Wyatt allegedly responded, "Yeah, she's safe."

On Wednesday, Paul Wyatt instructed the girl to leave the house on Colchester so she could be picked up at the Wal-Mart on Cortez Boulevard, the report said. She was then picked up by Garren and taken to his home in Homosassa.

Paul Wyatt told Garren to keep the teen at his home until he "could straighten out her custody situation," according to the report.

Working on a tip from detectives in Hernando, Citrus deputies were sent to Garren's home Thursday. Once there, authorities arrested Garren and took custody of the girl. It was not immediately clear where the teen was placed.

Hernando detectives arrested the Wyatts in Brooksville on Friday.

Hendricks, who is facing a termination of parental rights stemming from another case, previously admitted to having a sexual relationship with the girl and getting her pregnant. He later took the girl to get an abortion in Jacksonville.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Hernando, Citrus men accused of taking teen from state custody 04/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 27, 2009 8:33pm]

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