Officer hailed hero in Amber Alert case
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida police officer is being hailed a hero after breaking the case in a nationwide Amber Alert search for a missing 12-year-old girl.
Miami-Dade Police Sergeant Packy Changkachith said he is not a hero, he was just doing his job. Changkachith's observational skills ended a statewide search for a missing 12-year-old girl who had been gone for days.
Timothy Newman was arrested after police said he smuggled a girl from New Port, North Carolina into his car and drove her hundreds of miles away from home.
On Wednesday, federal agents put out an Amber Alert for the missing girl along with a warning to watch out for Newman's red Chrysler Sebring, after they tracked his debit card in Coral Gables.
Changkachith, a 14-year veteran, heard the call and went into action. "I was actually out and about doing my regular patrolling when I heard the announcement, and I went ahead and took the initiative on my own to actually go sit on I-95," said Changkachith.
Changkachith parked his police cruiser on the northbound side of Interstate 95 near Miami Gardens Drive hoping to catch Newman, who was heading north to Fort Lauderdale. "I sat on Interstate 95 for 50 minutes, watching thousands and thousands of cars go by before I saw his vehicle," said Changkachith. "I couldn't be too covert because I was in a patrol vehicle. What I did was I followed, and I didn't activate my equipment. I didn't want to let him know."
When Newman made the exit on Hallandale Beach Boulevard, Changkachith and other agents were waiting for him in the parking lot of a Denny's. "Up until I cut him off with my police vehicle to stop him from exiting the Denny's, I don't think he knew what was going on until we came upon him," said Changkachith.
Agents then arrested the already registered sex offender. Changkachith pulled the girl out from behind the passenger seat where she was hiding. "She was shaking. She was crying. By that point, she was just shaking," said Changkachith. "I think it was just the adrenaline of the whole moment, you know? She had so many police officers."
According to police, Newman who is three times the girl's age, admitted he had sex with the her on their drive. "I'm just glad, like a father. If I had to talk to him, I'd say, 'Listen, we got your daughter, and she is safe and it's up to you now,'" said Changkachith.
The Florida Department of Children and Family determined the girl's father provided a safe home. She will return to North Carolina on Tuesday. She is currently residing in a safe house.
Newman is facing federal charges and is being held without bond in a Broward jail.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)