Man linked to missing teen who reappeared four years later is charged with child abuse

A man has been charged with several counts of sex abuse - months after he was linked to a teen who went missing in Arizona before mysteriously reappearing in Montana four years later.

Prosecutors in Montana have charged Edmund Davis, 36, with two counts of felony child sex abuse resulting from child pornography allegedly found on his devices. The Attorney General’s Office said that the charges were filed under seal last week to ensure Mr Davis’ safe arrest on Monday.

Investigators made the discovery while serving a search warrant at Mr Davis’ home in Havre after he was linked to then-missing 18-year-old Alicia Navarro in July.

Ms Navarro, who vanished from her Glendale, Arizona home in September 2019 at the age of 14, had visited the local police department in Havre just days before, asking to be removed from the missing persons list. When police served the warrant at Mr Davis’ residence, he was seen throwing his phone into a trash can after Ms Navarro opened the door, prosecutors said.

“Dozens of images of suspected child sex abuse material were located on the device, confirmed to belong to Davis,” the Montana Attorney General’s Office said in a statement. “The phone contained images of infants and toddlers and other computer-generated or animated content showing children being sexualized.”

Mr Davis is being held in the Hills County Detention Center and his bond has been set at $1m.

Medical experts determined that several of the individuals in the picture were under the age of 13, and two pictures showed minors under the age of five.

Former co-workers of Mr Davis told The New York Post that Ms Navarro had been living with him for at least a year and that he used to call her his “niece.”

“It’s terrible. It’s gross and I can’t believe he was doing that to all those kids,” they told the Post. “He always had a hard shell. He wouldn’t talk a lot. He would be very defensive when someone would talk about him. It’s kinda a confusing thought that someone can do all that and hide it all and not show any emotion.”

Ms Navarro’s disappearance in 2019 sparked a vast search operation involving police, the FBI and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

On 23 July, she showed up alone at a police station in Havre, about 40 miles from the Canadian border.

Ms Navarro told detectives in Glendale that no one had hurt her, but it’s unclear if she has shed further light on where she’s been, or if she will return to her family home.

Her mother, Jessica Nuñez, had previously said that her daughter was on the autism spectrum, which made her shy in social situations.

At the time, Ms Nuñez raised concerns that Alicia may have been lured out of the home by an internet predator, emphasising that it was out of character for her daughter to run away because she didn’t even know how to take public transportation

Ms Navarro and her mother spoke on a call after she reappeared, police said earlier this year, but it is unclear if they have been reunited.

“Happy Birthday I know this message will be seen and I just want to say that I love you and will always will be here,” Ms Nuñez wrote in a Facebook post on her daughter’s birthday in September. “I remember today I gave birth to a special baby that I love with all my heart and always will.”