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Plot to bring 14-year-old Kentucky girl to Fargo foiled

Alleged kidnappers

Two Fargo men are charged with attempted kidnapping after they allegedly tried to take a 14-year-old girl from her school in Bowling Green, Ky., and bring her back to North Dakota to marry the teenage son of one of the men.

Dragan Jovanovic, 42, and Elvis Tahirovic, 18, are being held in the Warren County (Ky.) Regional Jail. They were arraigned Tuesday, and a judge set bail at $100,000 cash, a court clerk said.

According to Officer Barry Pruitt, spokesman for the Bowling Green Police Department:

The girl had been communicating with Jovanovic's 14-year-old son for more than a year through an Internet social networking site.

The men planned to bring her back to Fargo to marry the teen, who accompanied the two men on the trip, as did his 16-year-old sister.

The men initially planned to pick up the girl when her school bus dropped her off on Friday, but that plan fell through, so they stayed the weekend in Bowling Green.

On Monday, they went to the girl's school, Henry Moss Middle School, and inquired about what time the school buses ran and what time school let out.

"Those types of questions kind of raised a red flag, so I think they got a little nervous and they left," Pruitt said.

The men came back a short time later and asked to check the girl out of school, unaware that she wasn't in school that day, Pruitt said. School officials became suspicious and contacted the girl's parents and then police.

Officers found the men in a car across the street from the school and arrested them, Pruitt said.

The teens had apparently decided on their own to get married, Pruitt said. The girl agreed to leave with the men, but under Kentucky law she is too young to consent, he said.

"I think her parents were very surprised and shocked that this was supposed to go down," he said.

The public defender assigned to represent the two men was in court Wednesday and didn't return a message left at her office.

Jovanovic's son and daughter were taken into protective custody and turned over to Kentucky's Division of Protection and Permanency, Pruitt said.

Jovanovic was convicted of reckless endangerment in October 2005 in Cass County District Court, according to court records. The charge stemmed from a Jan. 9, 2005, incident during which police said Jovanovic hit his brother-in-law with his minivan after an argument. He was sentenced to 11 months in jail suspended.

In April 2007, Jovanovic pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after initially being charged with aggravated assault for an Aug. 21, 2006, incident in which he hit a man in the head with a baseball bat during a fight between families, according to court records.

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail suspended and 18 months of unsupervised probation.

Jovanovic and Tahirovic are scheduled to appear in Warren County Court on Friday on the Class B felony charge.

Pruitt said he couldn't disclose why the girl wasn't in school Monday. He praised school officials for their actions.

"They followed their procedures. They did exactly what they needed to do," he said.