Man pleads not guilty to kidnapping 6-year-old Easton girl

TAUNTON, Mass. (AP/WHDH) — A Massachusetts man pleaded not guilty to kidnapping a 6-year-old girl who police said went missing for hours before she was found in his car.

Avery Howard, of Brockton, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of kidnapping and assault and battery. Bail was set at $2,000.

Police said witnesses had seen the girl talking to a man in a black car with tinted windows around 11:45 a.m. Friday in Easton. They said the child was reported missing by her parents just after noon and was last seen leaving her Norton home alone with a suitcase because she was running away from home.

Police said the girl was found unharmed in Howard’s vehicle around 2:45 p.m. Howard was questioned and later arrested.

Defense attorney Scott Bradley said the 32-year-old Howard has special needs and was trying to help the girl, after he allegedly found her crying and saying she wanted to go to her grandmother’s house.

Bradley said Howard took her there but no one was home. Howard then allegedly took the girl with him to work, where he cares for an elderly patient as a home health aide. Bradley said Howard then took the girl to Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s and was on his way to her grandmother’s house again when he was stopped by police.

Howard’s family, who flew in from out of state, said they had no comment as they left court.

Howard was held on $2,000 cash bail.

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