SMYRNA, Georgia (NEWS CENTER Maine) — A teenage girl who went missing from a foster home in Readfield last month has been found safe in Georgia, and the man who brought her there fatally shot himself, according to a state police official.
Police believe 14-year-old Heavenlee Benjamin left her foster home when 35-year-old Robert Gooden of Smyrna, Georgia traveled to Maine to meet Benjamin, according to Maine Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland.
McCausland said the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit was able to track Benjamin to Gooden's Georgia home.
Maine State Police issued an arrest warrant for Gooden on Monday, charging him with criminal restraint. Louis Defense, a spokesperson for the Smyrna Police Department, said they initiated a search at Gooden's residence on Park Edge Drive around 8 a.m. Police were searching downstairs when they heard a gunshot upstairs, he said. There were no interactions or negotiations between police and Gooden.
McCausland said Gooden was from Georgia and met Benjamin online. She was found in safe in a home in Smyrna after she was reported missing on February 27.
The Kennebec Journal reports authorities first learned that Benjamin might have been in Georgia late last week, and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is working with Georgia officials to bring Benjamin back to Maine.
NEWS CENTER Maine will update the story when more details become available.