Suspect in missing Trumann teen case appears in court

Craig Gillum (Source: Trumann Police Department via Facebook)
Craig Gillum (Source: Trumann Police Department via Facebook)

TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - The man who police say was with a missing Trumann teen in Nebraska has appeared in court for the first time in Arkansas.

Trumann Police Assistant Chief Jon Redman says 52-year-old Craig Gillum from Dover, Tennessee made his first appearance Monday in a Poinsett County court for a probable cause hearing.

His bond was set at one million dollars and another court date was scheduled for March 27.

Gillum had been held in the Holt County, Nebraska Jail on charges of felony child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

He was extradited back to Arkansas where he faces the following charges:

  • Trafficking of persons
  • Computer child pornography
  • Interference with custody
  • Directing sexual performance by a child
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
  • Endangering the welfare of a minor

Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson previously said the arrest of Gillum "has led to other persons of interest in multiple cities and multiple states and this investigation will continue, therefore this case will remain open regardless of Gillum's arrest."

Investigators believe Gillum groomed the 16-year-old communicating with her on her school-issued laptop.

According to a news release from the Trumann Police Department, the girl and Gillum were located Thursday around 2 a.m., in O'Neill, Nebraska. The city is about 12 and half hours away from Trumann.

The recovery of missing is attributed to an intense multi-agency investigation and the support of our community.

Redman says they couldn't have done this without Jonesboro Police Department's Internet Crimes Unit which was able to trace fake accounts back Gillum.

"The old school way of doing policing is still valid, I mean, we still did that," Redman said. "We were knocking on doors to develop clues and pulling video but the primary way we did this investigation was 10 of us gathered around laptops getting search warrants for files and email addresses and telephones and all of that led to the successful end to returning her here,"

He warns parents they can never be too safe about what their children are doing online. In addition to phones, laptops, and iPads, Redman says children can also chat on gaming consoles.

"Even if that person is across the world you can talk to them in seconds and that's a good thing but it can also be a very dangerous thing," Redman said. "And that's what we're stressing, just be careful and keep a good watch on especially the smaller children and those that are more gullible about what may or may not be out there for them, the dangers that exist."

The girl's mother made an emotional and thankful post on Facebook Thursday morning saying in part:

I can not thank everyone enough for all of your hard work. Because of you, the hard work of officers, and the blessings from God, my husband and I will be able to hug our daughter again.

The teen's parents now want to prevent this from happening to someone else.

They told Region 8 News they want to start a conversation with not only their daughter's school but all area schools about additional safeguards that can be put in place to make it harder for students to interact inappropriately with strangers online.

"We certainly would never want another family to have to go through what we have had to go through and those precautions can actually help prevent and it could save children's lives," her mother said. "Not everyone is as lucky as we are."

While it has been a tough week for the entire Trumann community, one local pastor said it has also been a time of coming together to support the girl and her family.

The family's pastor, John Dillinger, said Thursday afternoon that the town was joyous because their prayers were answered.

"There is relief and joy and it just felt like you can breathe again," Dillinger said. "I just realized that a little while ago that, you know, for the first time in five days I'm not anxious, I'm not worried."

Dillinger also said they have already begun this week discussing internet safety with his church's youth and they will continue to do that.

Initially, police believed she was a runaway and had left of her own will.

However, Chief Henson said early on in the investigation that the girl might have been with someone who did not have her best interests at heart.

Editorial Note: Region 8 News has made the editorial decision to no longer name the teen. She is now a suspected sexual assault victim...and it is our policy to not release the identity of suspected sexual assault victims, meaning we will no longer publish or say her name.

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