Warner Robins police chief Friday defended his officers' handling of a case in which an alleged kidnapper was arrested, released on bond, then re-arrested the next day.
Chief Brett Evans says Frank Garmon Jr. was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly convinced a teenaged girl to drive to a bank to take out money.
Evans said Garmon is a regular panhandler who tells people stories about running out of gas or needing a locksmith to get into his car.
On Tuesday, he said, Garmon entered the girl's car when she was shopping on Watson Boulevard and talked her into driving him to the Robins Federal Credit Union on North Houston Road.
"She doesn't feel as if she can just leave," Evans said. "She felt like she needed to do that."
Garmon followed her into the bank, the chief said. "You can tell by her action at the bank that she's upset ... the teller picks up on it."
He said Garmon never threatened the girl or showed a weapon.
According to police, Garmon was arrested that day and charged with criminal trespassing. He was released that day on $780 bond.
The next morning, a police news release warned the public that Garmon was a "scam artist" and said, "Recently, he jumped into the passenger seat of a driver's car and asked for money." The release does not describe Garmon's arrest or the alleged kidnapping.
"Garmon is not known to be violent or threatening," the release says.
Warner Robins police did not return our phone calls about the Garmon case Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday, Garmon was arrested again on additional charges in the same case. He is charged with kidnapping, robbery by intimidation and theft by deception.
Evans said Friday that the girl's story was consistent, but that officers needed time to investigate the case further before bringing additional charges.
Since Tuesday, Evans said at least one other person has come forward to say they were also panhandled by Garmon. But he noted, "Lying itself is not illegal."
Garmon is being held without bond in the Houston County jail.
According to police, he's been previously convicted of shoplifting, felony robbery by snatching and drug charges dating back to the early 1990's.