2 children at centre of Sask. Amber Alert found safe
Two children at the centre of an Amber Alert issued in Saskatchewan have been found, according to RCMP.
The Saskatchewan RCMP issued an Amber Alert on Monday night asking the public to be on the lookout for a pair of kids, aged seven and eight.
On Tuesday night, police extended their search into South Dakota following evidence that suggested the group had moved into the U.S. state.
A police news release on Tuesday said they were believed to be with their mother and Benjamin Martin Moore, 50, a convicted sex offender with a history of sex offences against children and vulnerable people.
In a news release issued Wednesday, Saskatchewan RCMP said they received information regarding Moore's whereabouts on Tuesday, which it shared with law enforcement agencies in the United States.
At around 10:50 p.m. CST on Tuesday the Amber Alert issued in Canada on Monday was extended to South Dakota, and about 90 minutes later the Meade County Sheriff's Office announced it had located the four people in the city of Sturgis, more than 930 kilometres away from their home in Eastend, Sask., according to RCMP.
A Facebook post from Sturgis police said the two children had been "safely recovered."
"Law enforcement and child welfare agencies for South Dakota and Saskatchewan are working collaboratively to return the children safely back to Saskatchewan," the RCMP release says.
"The Saskatchewan RCMP has been advised the children are safe and appropriate resources and supports are being provided."
Both Moore and the childrens' mother were arrested at about 11:30 p.m. MT without incident, according to Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin.
Saskatchewan RCMP confirmed that Moore has been arrested, and that he and his common-law spouse are in police custody.
Merwin said police were fortunate to locate the fugitives because hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts are taking part in the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, many lodging in nearby campgrounds.
"We all started checking locations where people were staying and checking the campgrounds, and fortunate enough to find one of the campgrounds where they were staying," he said.
He said they tried to leave in their van, but they were stopped and arrested at the campground just east of Sturgis without incident.
It also said that several enforcement units in the area, including the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and the Sturgis Police Department, led to the "capture of these suspects."
"There is a long road ahead and a number of investigative avenues that need to be followed up on.," said Chief Supt. Tyler Bates, the officer in charge of the Saskatchewan RCMP's south district management team, in Wednesday's news release.
Amber Alert timeline
Originally, the Shaunavon RCMP were asked to help the Ministry of Social Services with an investigation into allegations surrounding Moore.
On Tuesday Bates said the initial visit with social services was on Aug. 2, and that this led the ministry to seek an apprehension order for the children.
However, RCMP has since provided a clarification of dates.
"It was on August 5 that Shaunavon RCMP assisted the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services with executing a search warrant at the residence of Benjamin Martin Moore in Eastend," the RCMP said.
"On August 2, Shaunavon RCMP initiated an unrelated investigation involving Benjamin Martin Moore. This investigation does not involve children."
Police are preparing a package for review by Crown prosecutors relating to the to Aug. 2 investigation, RCMP added.
Last week, Moore and the others abandoned their home in Eastend, about 315 kilometres southwest of Regina, before police were able to question him.
At about 7:20 p.m. on Monday, the Saskatchewan RCMP issued the Amber Alert for the two children, which had provided the description of Moore and the vehicle he was driving, which had an Alberta licence plate.
"We believe that [the children] are in danger in the presence of Benjamin Moore, and we want to locate them as quickly as possible to ensure that they are brought home safely," Bates said at a news conference Tuesday.
Bates said Moore had previously been convicted of sexual interference and possession of child pornography.
CBC News previously reported that he served a 26-month sentence for inappropriately touching a young child and possessing child pornography among other offences.
When asked why it took days to issue the Amber Alert, Bates said once the apprehension order was obtained by the Ministry of Social Services the police issued the alert.
"It's only since yesterday [Monday] evening that the request came from the Ministry of Social Services with respect to the apprehension order," he said.
The Ministry of Social Services said in an email it was not able to comment to the specific details of any case.
The agency said it does not have the authority to issue an Amber Alert.
If unable to locate a family for an investigation and if the ministry believes the family might have left Saskatchewan, it issues an inter-provincial child protection alert, said Joel Kilbride, executive director of program and service design, child and family programs at the ministry, in the email.
Saskatchewan RCMP issued a warrant for Moore's arrest on Tuesday, charging Moore with failing to report information to a registration centre within a week after a change of residence, as required under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act.
Bates was also unsure whether Moore is the biological father of the two children.
Shortly after the news conference the alert was expanded and the children found.
"Following [issuing] the Amber Alert, one individual has reported an incident involving Benjamin Martin Moore to police," said Bates.
"We are encouraging anyone else who may have been a victim of Benjamin Moore to file a report with police. We take these matters very seriously and we want to ensure that survivors are supported."