A kidnapping that was solved last week received little attention in the U.S. media, but had possible implications for North Dakota and Montana.
It certainly did in South Dakota because that is where two children, a brother and sister, were found safe.
A man named Benjamin Moore, a known sex offender who has served prison time in Canada, and his common law wife, kidnapped 7-year-old Luna Potts and her 8-year-old brother Hunter in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, a small town of 1,600 near Swift Current in the southwest of the province.
As soon as it was realized the children were missing, an Amber Alert was issued across Saskatchewan and it was believed they were traveling west to Alberta.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at all. After the Royal Canadian Mounted Police received a tip they may be traveling to South Dakota, the RCMP contacted authorities in South Dakota and an immediate Amber Alert was issued across the state.
Within two hours, the children were located in a Meade County campground near Sturgis. Moore was arrested and the children were later returned to their home in Shaunavon.
The news on the Canadian side covered this thoroughly, but the only report I’ve seen in the American media was an article in the Rapid City Journal. Rapid City is 25 miles from Sturgis.
A number of questions come up about this weird situation, but the first one for me is how did these people get into the United States? If they went from Shaunavon to Sturgis, that means they had to travel through Montana and perhaps part of North Dakota to get to southwest South Dakota.
If Benjamin Moore is a sex offender, as Canadian media reported, and had two young children in the car, I would think that would have thrown up an immediate red flag. Border Patrol agents are trained to look for this type of activity, so it could only mean two things.
First, Moore’s car, with an Alberta license plate, was waved through a port of entry without a check, or they passed into the United States on a road that doesn’t have a port of entry.
This isn’t the first time this has happened in my journalism career. Several years ago an Alaska man was caught on U.S. Highway 52 near Kenmare with a child he kidnapped in Alaska. He passed through the Portal port of entry before being captured by the Highway Patrol in Ward County.
This man slipped through Alaska and into Yukon Territory without any skepticism and drove all the way to the North Dakota border, passed through the port of entry and was captured about an hour later.
In that case, you almost have to think the Border Patrol knew something was wrong and contacted the North Dakota Highway Patrol to watch this guy as he traveled into North Dakota.
There are numerous other questions about the Potts siblings. Where was Moore and his girlfriend (who wasn’t named in the Canadian media or in the Rapid City Journal) taking the children? In other words, what was the destination?
My guess is they were in the Sturgis area because the annual motorcycle rally was going on there at the time and perhaps these people could “blend in” without law enforcement becoming suspicious.
Montana and North Dakota both have major highways going north and south that bump up to the Canadian border. Large amounts of marijuana have been found at the border, large amounts of liquor have been found at the border and in one case, a survivalist from Toronto wound up in Pembina County, near Walhalla and was going to “blow up everything and everybody.”
But taking children across an international boundary can only be the thinking of a knucklehead criminal. Even if there is a percentage of chance of getting caught, that’s too much.
And in Benjamin Moore’s case, he got almost all the way through two states and one province before getting caught. As of this writing, charges in the case were still pending.
Let’s just be pleased that Luna and Hunter Potts are safe and back with their family in Shaunavon.