Ransom allegedly spurred Duluth abduction

The man who police say has confessed to abducting a 13-year-old Duluth girl as she walked her dog near her home on Monday initially intended to hold her for ransom, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. P...

Todd Franik
Todd Franik of Duluth is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on preliminary charges of kidnapping and second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The man who police say has confessed to abducting a 13-year-old Duluth girl as she walked her dog near her home on Monday initially intended to hold her for ransom, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul charging him with kidnapping.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that if convicted, Todd Richard Franik, 41, of Duluth faces a potential life prison sentence after being charged with kidnapping the girl and taking her across state lines. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Keyes.

According to the six-page criminal complaint, Franik sexually fondled the girl and his plan was to hold her for ransom, but he abandoned his plan.

The St. Louis County Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota have concurrent jurisdiction, but at this point the case is only being charged federally.

"The alleged act is a violation of federal law, which makes it illegal for anyone to kidnap another and transport them across state lines," said Jeanne Cooney, director of community relations for the District of Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office.


According to the criminal complaint:

The girl said she saw a light blue, two-door car with its hood up as if the operator was having car trouble. She said a white man approached her and asked if she could give him directions to the zoo.

She said the man was in his 20s or 30s, with short dark hair, facial hair like he

hadn't shaved in a couple of days, with tattoos up and down both of his arms.

She said her abductor grabbed her and put his hand over her mouth. She said that he then picked her up and her dog and put both in the trunk of his car and shut it.

In the girl's detailed version of events, she said that she rode in the trunk for about five minutes and knew that they had driven onto gravel. She said the man opened the trunk and demanded that she give him her cell phone. She told the man that she didn't have a cell phone. He searched her and shut the trunk on her again.

The girl said she spotted a red tool box and a pinkish/orangeish blanket in the trunk.

She said they drove for another 15 minutes or so and the car stopped again -- about a mile south of the Mont du Lac Recreation/Ski Area along Highway 23, near the Spruce Trail entrance to Jay Cooke State Park. She said that the man removed her and her dog from the trunk and took her in the woods near a trail. She said the man took his clothes off and then took her clothes off. She said that he touched her breast and vaginal area.


He then said, "I can't do this," and put his and her clothes back on. She said that he then used duct tape to tie her hands in front of her, duct-taped her feet together and then secured her to a fallen tree with duct tape.

The girl said the man tore a piece off his shirt and stuffed it in her mouth and duct-taped her mouth shut. She said the man also put some of the black cloth and duct tape over her dog's mouth. He told her not to make any noise because if he heard any he would not be happy. She thought he gave her some lemonade from a bottle through a straw that he put under the duct tape.

The victim said that the man then drove away in the car. She was able to pull the duct tape off her mouth and chew through the duct tape on her wrists and free herself. She said she walked through the woods to Highway 23 and hid anytime she heard a car because she was afraid the man might come back.

The girl walked to the Wabegon Supper Club in Douglas County, where a call was made to 911. Officers found the spot in the woods where the girl had been held. They found duct tape, a straw and fresh shoe prints. While searching for evidence along Highway 23, officers saw a light blue Buick drive by them several times; they made note of its license plate. The registered owner of the vehicle was a woman who said she had loaned the car to a family friend. Police located the vehicle in the West Duluth K-Mart parking lot and kept it under surveillance.

At about 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Franik went to the vehicle and opened the trunk. Officers approached and spotted a pinkish/orangeish blanket, a red tool box and duct tape in the trunk. Franik said he was the only person driving the vehicle in the past two or three days. He was taken into custody without incident.

Officers went to Franik's residence at 334 N. 61st Ave. W. A search warrant was executed and a pair of tennis shoes was found with the same tread pattern as the shoe impressions found in the woods off Highway 23. A roll of duct tape also was found.

According to the complaint, Franik told Duluth police investigators that he abducted the girl near the intersection of 70th Avenue West and Raleigh Street. He said he headed south on Highway 23 and that he tied the girl to a tree in a secluded area. He said that he didn't know the victim and that he abducted her at random.

Sgt. Ann Clancey, supervisor of the Duluth police sex crime, abuse, neglect, domestic violence, predatory offender unit, credited the victim with helping to solve her own case.


"We received the report (of the crime) and a fabulous statement from the victim in time to capture a lot of physical evidence," Clancey said. "Sometimes there's a delay in reporting and we lose evidence. In this case, we had the advantage time-wise. The suspect wasn't aware we were looking for him, and for that reason evidence that could have been lost wasn't. Our victim was one of the best witnesses I have ever interviewed. She was a fabulous witness to her own crime and was able to provide details that directly contributed to resolving this case as quick as we did."

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