Missing girl update: How police got their man
A father who did not return his daughter to her mother after a weekend visitation in Fallon was arrested Wednesday morning by San Bernadino County (Calif.) Sheriff’s deputies from the Twin Peak substation and U.S. Marshals.
For the three involved agencies, authorities said it was “good old-fashioned” police work that resulted in the arrest of Inshan “Shan” Ross.
Fallon Police Department Capt. Ron Wenger said Ross was arrested at his Running Springs home in the San Bernadino Mountains without incident. FPD had requested and received warrants on Tuesday charging Ross with second-degree kidnapping and custodial interference. His bail has been set at $55,000.
Wenger said law enforcement officers kept surveillance on Ross’ residence during the night because they wanted to approach Ross in the daylight. Wenger said the 14-year-old daughter, Jasmine Ross, was in good shape and was in no danger during the ordeal. She was sleeping when authorities entered the house.
Wenger, though, said both the Fallon police and San Bernadino County were involved with a difficult situation.
“It’s a very complex custody issue based on differing state laws,” Wenger said.
Wenger said both the FPD and San Bernadino County were facing a unique situation based on each different interpretation on custody laws. Because the parents were never married when Jasmine Ross was born, Nevada gives sole custody to the mother whereas in California, the law recognizes both.
Because of those conflicting laws, Wenger said police had to outwit Ross into thinking he was “in the clear.”
Wenger said the girl’s mother, Stacey Bowles, allowed her daughter to visit Ross because he was trying to reconnect with his daughter. Bowles and Ross were never married, but Wenger said Bowles agreed to allow Ross to visit the girl in Fallon for a set time. Ross reportedly picked the child up at Bowles’ home. Wenger said he also came to Fallon several weeks ago to bring Christmas presents and take her to lunch.
Wenger said the missing girl never returned home to her mother Saturday night after seeing her father.
Once Bowles involved the FPD, Wenger said local officials asked the Reno Police Department to check several motels where Ross and his daughter may have checked in, but those attempts were unsuccessful. FPD Chief Kevin Gehman said that may been a smokescreen to the mother and that they never did visit Reno.
Gehman, though, said both Fallon and San Bernadino authorities knew a day later of Ross’ location in Running Springs, a community of 4,862 residents in the San Bernadino Mountains located near the metropolitan areas of San Bernadino and Riverside.
“The mom said her daughter was texting with her sister who lives here,” Gehman said. “There was never any reason to believe the girl was in danger.”
Wenger said the FPD was able to locate Ross’ location through his cellphone, and the search then shifted to southern California. Authorities were also able to trace a license plate number assigned to Ross’ girlfriend.
When the media asked for more information and photos of both the father and Jasmine, Gehman said releasing the information might have swayed Inman Ross to flee, thinking he had committed a crime.
“We couldn’t put out the information,” Gehman explained. “We were afraid if he knew charges were coming, there was the fear he would leave (his home).”
As for photos, Gehman said the FPD wasn’t worried about them.
“He said he wasn’t concerned about the pictures because police knew of Jasmine Ross’ location, and police didn’t need people searching for her.
“We assumed he would check out local websites (such as the Lahontan Valley News and Facebook), and we didn’t want to spook him,” Gehman said.
As it was, when deputies and U.S. Marshals swooped in to make the arrest, they noticed Ross’ cellphone had been turned off.
“It was a great effort,” Wenger said. “They worked a SET (Special Enforcement Team) until 6 in the morning watching the house and another (SET) relieved them at 6. They saw the girlfriend drive away in a Jeep, and she confirmed Ross was in the house and Jasmine was also in the house.”
When officers arrived at the house, Ross was entering the garage, preparing to take his other children to school.
“That was a joint effort by the San Bernadino SET team and U.S. Marshals,” Gehman added.
Wenger said the girl has been turned over to the California Division of Child and Family Services in San Bernadino County and that Bowles is in contact with the agency to make arrangements for her daughter’s return to Fallon.
Gehman said Fallon will request that Inman Ross, who is on parole from a case stemming in Nevada, be extradited to Fallon, a process that could take days or weeks depending on Ross’ cooperation.