North Battleford, Saskatchewan – A 19-year-old man has been charged with child abduction, abandonment and confinement over the ordeal of little Emma O’Keeffe.
Johnathan Ryann Gunville of North Battleford faces multiple counts related to the incident during which autistic, epileptic Emma was taken when a suspect drove off in her mother’s SUV while the child was strapped in the back seat.
The six-year-old was found when construction workers spotted the SUV hidden in bushes a few kilometres from a strip mall where her mother went shopping without turning off the car.
She was missing for 13 frantic hours during which time RCMP triggered an Amber Alert in three provinces.
Emma needed life-sustaining medication every 12 hours and was lucky to have been found.
Police said hundreds of hours of surveillance footage from over 200 businesses was viewed as part of the investigation, establishing the stolen vehicle’s movements after it was stolen.
“As a result of this investigation, 19-year-old Johnathan Ryann Gunville of North Battleford has been charged with:
• Abduction of a person under 14, Section 281 of the Criminal Code
• Unlawful confinement, Section 279(2) of the Criminal Code
• Abandoning a child, Section 218 of the Criminal Code
• Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, Section 249(1)(a) of the Criminal Code x2
• Theft of a motor vehicle, Section 333.1 of the Criminal Code
• Possession of property obtained by crime over $5000, Section 355(a) of the Criminal Code
• Evade a police officer, Section 249.1 of the Criminal Code
• Drive while disqualified, Section 259(4)(a) of the Criminal Code x2
• Fail to comply with a probation order, Section 733.1(1) of the Criminal Code x8
The charges include two additional vehicle thefts carried out subsequent to the abduction that occurred on Sept. 16.
A family acquaintance said: “The family is upset with him. They can’t believe he did this.
“He is a troubled kid. He does suffer from mental health issues that have never been treated properly”
“Gunville has been remanded into custody and is scheduled to appear in North Battleford Provincial Court on Monday, September 24, at 9:30 a.m.”
“Saskatchewan RCMP would like to recognize and thank the media and public for their assistance in this matter.”