Man accused of kidnapping after Safford girl found in South Carolina apartment

The young girl’s father, Justin, says his daughter had gone for a walk last week but didn’t return to Safford.
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 7:35 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2022 at 1:26 PM MST
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SAFFORD, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- We’re learning more about the man accused of kidnapping a Safford girl after she was found at his South Carolina apartment early Wednesday morning.

The young girl’s father, Justin, says his daughter had gone for a walk last week but didn’t return to Safford. He told Arizona’s Family that authorities had found his daughter in South Carolina. The sheriff’s office says Timothy M. Schultheis, 23, of South Carolina, was arrested early Wednesday morning.

Sheriff officials say that the girl had gone for a walk on Sunday, Mar. 20, around 11 a.m. but then didn’t return. Officials say the family started looking for her around 6 p.m., but when they couldn’t find her, Justin called deputies. “We’ve gone over the stranger danger, the internet, and social media, been warning her,” Justin previously told Arizona’s Family reporter Amy Cutler. He had been searching for his daughter since that night. Justin says that he is planning to fly to South Carolina to reunite with his daughter.

“We were all in bed, about 2 o clock in the morning we heard the knock on the door and I opened it and there’s 2 deputies out there. At first, my heart just sank,” said Danny, the girl’s uncle. “We’re ecstatic. But at the same time, we’re also nervous because we don’t know what her condition is, but we are thankful she’s alive and found.”

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office says they were alerted by the FBI after they suspected Schultheis of kidnapping a girl from Arizona. Schultheis was also listed as a wanted person by the National Crime Information Center. That’s when deputies got a warrant for his arrest and another warrant to search his apartment. Authorities were able to enter the apartment where they found Schultheis and the girl. She was taken to the Savannah Memorial Hospital to be checked out. She has since been released, and Schultheis was taken into custody. A recent booking photo hasn’t been released but Arizona’s Family has obtained a previous mug shot for Schultheis.

Schultheis was out on bond and was wearing an ankle monitor when he traveled to Arizona and kidnapped the pre-teen, according to BCSO. Deputies say he had the ankle monitor on at the time of his arrest this morning.

“That is of critical importance to us--how does somebody who has an ankle monitor, out on bond, has that kind of freedom without being checked? And here we have another victim--another 12-year-old victim--and thank god she’s unharmed,” said Major Bob Bromage, a spokesperson for BCSO.

Schultheis has been booked into the Beaufort County jail on kidnapping charges. Graham County deputies say he will be extradited to Arizona. Records show that Schultheis was out on bond for multiple sexual assault charges involving minors in 2020.

Editor’s Note: This article was modified on March 30, 2022, to remove the identity of the 12-year-old girl. Arizona’s Family will no longer reveal the girl’s identity in an effort to protect her.