INVERNESS (FOX 13) - A Citrus County girl was abducted from her bed in the dark of night by a neighbor who took her back to his home before she managed to escape, deputies say.
Deputies became aware of the kidnapping after the 8-year-old girl told a teacher at Lecanto Primary School that a neighbor named "Jeff" took her from her home in the middle of the night.
Deputies said the suspect, Jeffrey Story, 20, had gone to the little girl's window some time between 10 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 3 a.m. on Dec. 16 and knocked on her window.
When she answered, she unlocked the window and she told deputies he pulled her out of the window by her wrist. He was wearing dark clothing and gloves and the lower part of his face was covered.
She told deputies Story took her to his house, put her on the couch in the garage and duct taped her mouth.
When he left to go into the main part of the home, she was able to escape out the side garage door. Deputies said she told them she got back into her room, but she didn't tell anyone what happened because Story told her he would come back with a van and ship her out of the country.
During interviews with deputies, the girl's mother said the little girl went into her mother's room and slept with her for the rest of the night that night, which was very unusual.
Fortunately, the little girl was not hurt. Story is charged with kidnapping, burglary with battery and violation of probation. He's being held without bond.
"Thank God this little girl was brave enough to try to escape," Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said Thursday. "She was also brave enough to speak up and tell her story to an adult. This is a very sick individual who should be put away for a very long time."
Deputies are also trying to determine if the suspect has tried to have contact with a 6-year-old who also lives at the home.