Abduction investigators lean on training

Sometimes, the basics are all that are needed to solve a case.

Investigators relied on canvassing, daily briefings, instincts and interview techniques to find resolution in the disappearance of 16-year-old Kimmie Daily, whose body was found Monday night.

“In this case, the canvassing paid off for us,” Pierce County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Blair said. “If it weren’t for our detectives, we wouldn’t have been able to identify a suspect and find (Kimmie) as quickly.”

Critical to bringing about the case’s closure was the Child Abduction Response Team, which for two years has been trained in how to deploy resources when a child goes missing.

The training has a leadership component that “makes us realize the scope and scale of issues related to missing kids,” said sheriff’s Capt. Brent Bomkamp, who supervises the criminal investigations division and is part of CART. “The scale gets pretty big, pretty fast.”

When a child is reported missing, a criminal investigation is launched and multiple divisions are called in. An incident command system is in place to organize and direct large-scale operations.

Search and rescue crews go out looking for the child or clues to his or her whereabouts. Residents are called on to disclose any information about what they might have seen or heard. Detectives start knocking on doors, asking questions of everyone in the area.

CART takes all these facets and trains people on how to use them simultaneously so no time is wasted in the search. The goal is that everybody knows what needs to be done and who needs to do it.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer, who lobbied for CART two years ago along with Sheriff Paul Pastor, said the training made a difference in bringing a quicker close to Daily’s case.

“We were able to do multiple things quickly,” he said. “We didn’t turn everybody to focus on just one thing. We continued to work all things.

That multifaceted approach appears to have paid off.

When detectives met for their daily briefing Sunday, they lamented the lack of tips and leads left to sort through. As they discussed what to do next, a detective sergeant spoke up.

“She said the hair on the back of her neck stood up when she talked to (Tyler) Savage. She said it was the guy,” Blair recalled. “That’s how we caught him.”

The briefings reportedly gave investigators a chance to reassess the case, share ideas and determine where to funnel their resources.

After the detective sergeant expressed concern about Savage’s story, investigators went to speak with him again Monday.

Meanwhile, search and rescue crews continued looking for Daily with air and ground units. Detectives kept following up on tips that were called in.

Investigators began noticing inconsistencies in Savage’s story, and it wasn’t long before he allegedly told them he had killed Daily and led them to the vacant lot where he had hidden her body.

“I think good, old-fashioned police work did it, and the training played a role,” Blair said.

Two detectives are going next month to receive more CART training. They’ll be in classes on canvassing and search and recovery strategies for abducted children.

The team hopes to be certified by the Department of Justice early next year, Troyer said. It would be the first active, certified team in Washington.

“I can tell you this: Pierce County is not the place to abduct a child,” Troyer said.

Staff writer Stacey Mulick contributed to this report.