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Valley News Dispatch

Michigan man faces felony charges in Vandergrift girl's disappearance

Mary Ann Thomas
| Monday, July 16, 2018, 7:18 p.m.
Lena Dixon
Vandgrift Police
Lena Dixon

A Michigan man faces multiple felony charges in connection with the disappearance of a 15-year-old Vandergrift girl who was missing for almost 18 days and found Friday in Michigan.

Bruce Kirkpatrick, 55, of Michigan, was arrested Saturday at an undisclosed private residence in Marine City, St. Clair County, about an hour north of Detroit, according to Paul Soderberg, senior assistant prosecuting attorney in the St. Clair County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

Kirkpatrick faces numerous charges and was in the St. Clair County Jail on Monday in lieu of $75,000 secure cash bond, and awaiting a series of legal proceedings, according to Soderberg.

Lena Dixon of Vandergrift went missing June 26 when she left her job at the McDonald’s restaurant on Hyde Park Road in Allegheny Township and voluntarily got into a white Chrysler 300 with dark tinted windows.

Vandergrift police and the FBI investigated and issued media alerts on Dixon’s mysterious disappearance.

She wasn’t heard from again until the FBI and the Marine City police in Michigan, in a joint investigation, found her and Kirkpatrick in a Marine City home, according to Soderberg.

Dixon was unharmed, according to her mother, Stefanie Grantham of Vandergrift.

Soderberg declined to provide details on Kirkpatrick’s arrest and Dixon’s rescue.

The FBI still is investigating the case and cannot comment on the details, according to Catherine Policicchio, an FBI spokeswoman in Pittsburgh.

The Tribune-Review is not publishing specific information on the charges against Kirkpatrick because court documents have not been released on the case.

Grantham, who earlier said authorities were investigating an acquaintance her daughter made on social media, was notified Friday of her whereabouts.

She received the call that every mother would hope for: “We found your daughter and she is safe,” an FBI agent told Grantham on the phone.

Because of the ongoing investigation, Grantham said she cannot release many details about reuniting with her daughter.

Wherever she went, Grantham drove for hours into the night, arriving at the destination to meet her daughter at 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

Dixon was with law enforcement officials and wasn’t wearing the same clothes she left in, her mother noted.

Dixon was taken to a hospital by police for an evaluation that was due more to protocol than for any injury, Grantham said.

Dixon returned to her family in Vandergrift later Saturday, where they ate dinner and enjoyed ice cream at the Ice Cream Pump at the Hilltop gas station in Gilpin Township.

“We are doing dishes and cleaning up together like we did before,” Grantham said.

Kirkpatrick was arraigned on Saturday in Marine City District Court, where he was read his rights, according to Soderberg. “He stood mute and a plea of not guilty was entered,” he said.

Kirkpatrick is scheduled for a preliminary exam on Aug. 1, a probable cause conference on July 25, and other proceedings.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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