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Gracie Burke with officers who helped find her in Colorado. Burke was taken from Valley Center sometime July 1 or 2. She was found July 7.

Child unharmed
By Chris Strunk
Last Updated: July 20, 2017

5-year-old found in Colorado

Five-year-old Gracie Burke is safe at home, and arrest warrants have been issued for her mother and her mother's boyfriend.

Valley Center police said Burke was found in Denver July 7, days after she was reportedly abducted from Valley Center by her mother, who does not have legal custody of the child.

Police said Kaylie Koerner, 22, and Stephen J. Rogers, 21, were being sought this week on charges of aggravated interference with parental custody.

Burke's grandparents have legal guardianship of the child, police said.

Burke was unharmed and healthy when police and family members found her and brought her back to Kansas.

"We'd prefer it not happen at all, but considering the circumstances, it's a happy ending," said Valley Center police Sgt. Lloyd Newman. "… Some of these things are pretty long and drawn out. Overall, it was a short amount of time, and that's good."

Police said Koerner and Rogers took Burke and their 6-month-old son from Valley Center July 1 or 2.

After learning of the possible abduction, police posted an alert on its Facebook page, asking for the public's help in finding the family, which police said was traveling in a Dodge Durango possibly headed for Colorado.

Newman said the post, which included photos of Rogers, Koerner and Burke, was shared more than 2,700 times and reached nearly 270,000 people, including some in Colorado.

Police said Koerner was trusted with some visitation of her daughter. But Koerner apparently decided to leave the area without permission.

Newman said that although Koerner did not have permission to take Burke, the case didn't warrant an Amber Alert because the child was not in imminent danger.

Crossing a state line, however, made the charge a felony.

The family was found in Colorado through a combination of family persistence and police work.

Authorities in Kansas "pinged" a cellphone Koerner had, tracking it to Colorado. The phone was operational with Internet Wi-Fi, Newman said.

Police said Burke's family was in Colorado and went with Denver police to pick her up.

Police presented the case this week to the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office, which issued the warrants.

"Technology definitely helped us," Newman said. "The phone pinging, that's a big thing. It doesn't always work out that great, but it worked this time."




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