EDMONTON — A 21-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping in an attack on a six-year-old girl on a reserve west of Edmonton.
RCMP said James Clifford Paul, 21, was arrested late Saturday thanks to tips from the public.
The injured girl was found outdoors earlier the same day by family members on the Paul First Nation. She was flown to an Edmonton hospital in life-threatening condition.
Supt. Gary Steinke told reporters Monday that it took almost two hours from the time the child’s family noticed she was missing until they found her, but would not give further details.
Various media reports have said she was discovered naked in the snow in the woods.
Steinke described the girl’s injuries as “very serious” and said she remains unconscious in hospital in serious but stable condition.
“This is a horrific incident,” said Steinke. “It’s impacted the community, it’s impacted the police officers.”
The girl is not being identified because sexual assault charges have been laid.
Steinke said Paul has no fixed address and is known to police in other jurisdictions. He was not a stranger to the girl, he said.
“It was not an unknown predatorial attack. He was known to her.”
Paul was arrested on the nearby Alexis First Nation, about 30 kilometres northeast of the Paul reserve.
Steinke said the arrest came quickly because several people called police to help track Paul’s location.
“Our focus now is on helping the victim’s family and the community deal with the impact of this horrendous attack.”
Paul is to appear in court Jan. 7.