Jul 22, 2012

The Danielle Cramer Kidnapping Case

On June 14th 2006 Danielle Cramer, 15 years old left her home and for a year no one knew where she was. She had run away before and there was no immediate concern. As the days passed it became clear that something had happened. People and neighbors started to look for her. The police searched the house but there was no sign of her. Her parents had not seen nor heard from her while she was gone. Had she been kidnapped? Or worse, kidnapped, raped, and killed? Statistics by the National Center for Missing and Exploited children, the FBI, and the US Depart of Justice revealed that in 15 of the past 18 years there has been an increase in the number of missing children and about half of the kidnapped children in the US were four to eleven years old and 74% were girls.

The Bloomfield police went to the house of an acquaintance of her parents with search warrants and to obtain DNA and found Danielle Cramer locked up in a secret, tiny room four or five feet deep under a staircase of a couple in West Hartford, Connecticut. She had been missing for a year.

Under arrest

Two people were arrested; Adam Gault, 40 years old, and Ann Murray, 39, who lived at the Newington Road home. Gault was charged with unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment and custodial interference, and was held on a $500,000 bond. Murphy was charged with conspiracy and risk of injury charges and held on a $100,000 bond.

Events while held captive

Adam Gault was accused of imprisoning a 15 year old and was found with videos of sexually explicit homemade pornography. The pornography was found in Adam Gault’s home. Investigators tried to determine the identities of other girls in the videos which were of poor quality and which had been apparently posted on the internet at different times. Gault, a West Hartford dog trainer, was charged with the disappearance of Danielle who told authorities that Gault had used her for internet sex shows and modeling. It was not yet determined whether Gault had participated in the shows, as reported by The Hartford Courant. The videos were shot at Adam Gault’s home. Gault has been held on $1 million dollar bond since the cops found Danielle in the secret room under the staircase. His common-law wife, Ann Murphy and a friend, Kimberley Cray, were also in custody.

The aftermath

In a surprise statement the defense attorney claimed that his clients were only holding the 15 year old girl against her abusive parents. The plaintiff’s attorney then asked, “So these people were saving her from abusive parents and exploiting her to do porn on the internet? Isn’t that rich.” Marc Needelman, the attorney for the girl’s parents, also dismissed as “a total fabrication’ the claim of the defense that Danielle Cramer had been abused at her own house and that she had found a safe haven in the home of Gault who had once worked with her stepfather. The police also contested the claims. According to the Houston Chronicle, Marc Needelman said that “the Bloomfield police department had been involved in the investigation over a year. They publicly stated yesterday in no uncertain terms that the girl’s parents have absolutely no responsibility, have committed no crimes or engaged in any improprieties.” The police arrested three adults who lived in the house. Gault had conducted a business transaction the previous year with the parents of the girl which indicated and confirmed that he knew who she was.

Under arrest were Adam Gault and Ann Murphy who lived at the Newington Road home. Gault was charged with unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit unlawful restraint and was held on $500,000 bond. Murphy was charged with conspiracy to commit second degree reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit second-degree custodial interference and risk of injury to a minor. Cray was also charged with reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit custodial interference, risk of injury to a minor and conspiracy to commit unlawful restraint, according to police.

Capt. Jeffrey Blatter of the Bloomfield Police said, "She is a child from troubled circumstances and found what she believed to be a friend." The authorities also stated that she had run away before, prior to her disappearance last June. The Department of Children and Families is to determine whether she should be returned to her parents. In a surprising twist there seemed to be another fifteen year old boy living in the house as well. It has yet to be determined whose child he is.

Interesting facts of the case

• It was learned that Danielle had complained about abuse in the home to the police before she disappeared. It was in fact her reason for running away as she felt no one cared.

• She was discovered when a sharp-eyed policeman noticed a hidden door.

• Phone records showed that she was in touch regularly with her 41 year old captor before she went missing.

• Adam Gault had been investigated before for inappropriate relationships with young girls. Astonishingly, no action was taken.

Gault’s attorney told the court that Cray was not charged with kidnapping and that there was no indication of the use of force. After the hearing, Cray’s attorney, Michael Georgetti, said: "The girl was never molested in that house. There are no allegations of molestation.”

Officers had questioned Gault several times, but he always denied any involvement in her disappearance. Captain Blatter of the Bloomfield Police said that it did not appear the girl lived in the room. What does that mean? Was he indicating that there was something fishy about her story? And where is Danielle Cramer now? What happened to her? Will there be another installment? Danielle Cramer was forced to change her name and assume a new identity. To conclude, when you take into account that 80% of abductions by strangers occur within a quarter mile of the child’s house it is amazing that Danielle Cramer hadn’t been found long ago.