CODY, Wyo. (AP) — A Montana nature photographer was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to kidnapping and sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl in Wyoming who was later found wandering in the mountains outside Cody.
Jesse Paul Speer, 40, of Manhattan, Mont., tricked the young victim into accompanying him in October 2012 by saying he needed help finding a lost puppy, according to court documents.
When the girl had second thoughts, Speer pulled a gun, made her get into his vehicle and then drove her into the wilderness outside Yellowstone National Park, according to the documents.
A pair of hunters later found the girl wandering at night along a dirt road about 20 miles southeast of Cody.
Wyoming District Judge Stephen Cranfill sentenced Speer after he pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor.
The abduction rattled residents of Cody, a picturesque town of fewer than 10,000 that serves as the eastern gateway for Yellowstone National Park.
Speer was tracked down by investigators who paired the girl's account of her abduction with video footage of his Toyota 4-Runner passing through the park on the day before the incident.
The divorced father of two was arrested by the FBI a week later in Belgrade, Mont., not far from his home. He acknowledged the abduction and said he had struggled with an addiction to pornography, according to court documents.
His children were temporarily placed in the care of Montana Child Protective Services before Speer's ex-wife gained sole custody.