A 23-year-old military member was arrested after a mother allegedly found him engaging in a sexual act with her 12-year-old daughter in the backseat of a car in Elma, Washington, authorities said.
The unidentified mother had reported the girl missing to the Elma Police Department Monday after hearing the girl sneak out of their home in the 1500 block of Bailey Road, Grays Harbor County sheriff's deputy Steve Shumate said.
Later, she noticed a suspicious 2012 Honda Civic parked just off the road.
From her home, the mother spotted two people in the back seat of the Honda. She walked outside to find it was her daughter and the man, Shumate said.
The mother had her daughter "removed" from the car and a "discussion" subsequently occurred between the man and the mother "regarding the age of the child," Shumate said.
As he tried to drive off, the mother used physical force to restrain him and grabbed his keys, according to deputies. Police arrived and arrested the man a short time later.
He was taken to Grays Harbor County Jail and booked on suspicion of second-degree child rape.
His identity has not been released, but deputies said the military member was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma. The man is originally from Texas.
He allegedly met the girl on the instant messaging application known as KIK, a chatting app popular with teens and young adults that has come under fire for allowing child predators easy access to children.
The victim was taken to an area hospital for treatment and examination, deputies said.
Detectives were working with military investigators to see if there are potentially more victims. An investigation into the incident was ongoing.
A version of this story first appeared on KCPQ and was distributed by Tribune Broadcasting.