A Rupert, Idaho, teen and his 6-year-old niece were safe Friday after a reported kidnapping and truck theft carried them into central Utah.
Three men were arrested early Friday near Fillmore and are awaiting extradition back to Idaho.Millard County deputy sheriff Randy Christiansen said the two youths were rescued unharmed shortly before 2 a.m. near the Yuba Lake State Park cutoff on I-15, about 88 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Christiansen declined to identify the victims.
He arrested three men at 3:20 a.m. just south of Fillmore after they failed to pay for gas.
Booked into the Millard County Jail were Jose Romero, 22; Jesus Reyes, 29, and Juan Romero, 20.
Rupert police said the men had approached the two victims at a shopping center about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Christiansen said. They threatened them with a knife and commandeered the truck.
"Near as we can tell at this point, they kidnapped these kids simply so the truck theft wouldn't be reported as quickly," the deputy said. "Their whole intention was to take the truck to California and sell it."
Minidoka County prosecutor Gara Newman in Rupert said it was her understanding that all three men had admitted their crimes, with one saying he merely drove the truck.
The three will each face two counts of second-degree kidnapping and one count of robbery, she said. "We are preparing the complaint and warrant at this time," she said.
Her office has contacted the U.S. attorney because the children were brought across state lines.
"Kidnapping is not something we take very lightly," she said. "There were no reports the two were injured, but they were probably scared to death."