Crime

Ryan Place child abduction suspect was nude when he was arrested, FBI agent testifies

He ate a granola bar grabbed from the break room. He downed one cup of water and asked for another. And from inside a police interview room on Calvert Street just northwest of downtown, Michael Webb described how he abducted and raped an 8-year-old girl.

His wrists were free of cuffs, but leg irons linked his ankles as he sat across from FBI Special Agent Chris Thompson and Fort Worth Police Detective Amy Heise. It was still dark on a Sunday morning in May when Webb offered his account. The path there was indirect.

No, the room was not too hot, Webb said. He declined an offer of coffee. It was on then to the stranger he kidnapped from a 6th Avenue sidewalk.

Webb was wearing clothing during the interview. When he arrived in a patrol car outside the Major Case Unit office, he was wrapped in a sheet. He was nude when law enforcement officers arrested him at a hotel room and found the girl inside a basket.

Early on, Webb was asked why he was there.

“A little girl,” he said. “That little girl.”

Some of Webb’s interview answers about the Ryan Place kidnapping and Forest Hill hotel sex assault were described Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth. Thompson testified about the interview during a hearing in which U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor considered a defense motion to suppress the statements.

Webb made outrageous and incredible claims during the interview, including that he was paid to abduct and sexually assault a child, Thompson said.

Webb eventually said he would be wholly honest. His interrogators deserved that, he suggested. Because of the depravity of the crimes, it seemed Webb expected a less-than-pleasant reception from the police.

Thompson and Heise had been “nice to me considering what the F I did,” Webb said.

O’Connor said that before the hearing he watched body camera video of officer encounters with Webb and video from inside the interview room, including of the defendant nodding to agree to a waiver of his Miranda rights. After hearing testimony from Thompson, O’Connor denied the suppression motion. It appeared Webb understood what was going on in the interview room, O’Connor said.

Webb’s attorney, federal public defender John Stickney, had argued that his client was sleep deprived, told Thompson he had not slept for three days and was not lucid when he waived his right to not answer police questions.

Webb, who is 51, said he was homeless when he was arrested.

In an attempt to demonstrate Webb is of at least average intelligence, Thompson testified about the defendant’s word choice when answering a question about his encounter with the victim’s mother. Both had been walking outdoors when the child was abducted.

Webb used the word “maneuver” or “maneuvering” to describe how he approached the victim’s mother, Thompson said.

The interview lasted for about three hours. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aisha Saleem asked Thompson on Thursday about the length. Thompson suggested it took that long to arrive at the truth.

“He lied,” the special agent said. “That’s why.”

Webb had been previously arrested 16 times and had spent two periods in prison when he was found at the WoodSpring Suites hotel in Forest Hill.

Paramedics arrived at the police interview room to evaluate Webb, not but because he was ill or injured but because it was standard procedure, Thompson testified. They questioned him, checked his blood pressure and evaluated Webb in other ways, but he was not interested in medical treatment, the special agent said.

“No, I’m fine. I just want to talk to them,” Webb said, referring to Thompson and Heise.

O’Connor previously denied defense motions that sought to suppress other statements Webb made to police and change the trial’s venue.

The victim was walking with her mother near Lowden Street and 6th Avenue on May 18 when Webb pulled her into his car, authorities have said. The victim was found about eight hours later at the hotel.

About six hours after the victim was abducted, a Forest Hill police sergeant inspected some locations inside Webb’s hotel room but did not find a child. On a second trip to the hotel, law enforcement officers again knocked on his door, forced their way into the room, removed him and found the victim.

Webb’s trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 24.

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Emerson Clarridge covers crime and other breaking news for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He works evenings and reports on law enforcement affairs in Tarrant County. He previously was a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald and the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, New York.
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