HARTFORD, Conn. – Parents of a 15-year-old Connecticut girl expressed relief when police discovered her in a Hartford home after vanishing a year ago while the suspect who harbored her accuses the teen's family of abuse.
"She's my girl and I love her so much and not every parent has this opportunity to have this happy ending," said Jennifer Hesse, mother of Danielle Cramer, who police found locked in a hidden closet-like room in the home of Adam Gault, 41. "I have no intentions of letting her go."
Bloomfield Police said Gault filed a sexual abuse complaint on Cramer's behalf, claiming a family friend may have sexually abused her before she vanished in 2006.
Gault and two other suspects were arraigned in a Connecticut courtroom Thursday as police said the teen assumed a new identity that made her part of two of the suspects' family.
Gault, 41, was charged with unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, custodial interference, interfering with an officer, risk of injury to a minor and forgery, in connection with Cramer's disappearance.
Authorities said Thursday they were investigating whether Gault had inappropriate relationships with her and other girls.
Police Capt. Jeffrey Blatter said there was insufficient evidence and the complaint was closed.
Gault's common-law wife, Ann Murphy, 40, was charged with conspiracy to commit reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit custodial interference and risk of injury to a minor. Kimberly Cray, 26, was charged with reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit custodial interference, risk of injury to a minor and conspiracy to commit unlawful restraint.
Investigators believe the girl sometimes traveled out of state and assumed a new identity while living with Gault, of nearby West Hartford, Bloomfield Police Capt. Jeffrey Blatter said.
"She was compelled to use a new name, to assume a new identity," Blatter told The Associated Press. "She did assume a name that would suggest she was part of that family."
Authorities did not say how she altered her name.
Gault, a dog trainer, was arrested with two women who lived in the house. He was held on $1 million bond. It was unclear if Gault had a lawyer.
Authorities said the girl, who vanished last June, had a history of running away from home.
Other girls may have experienced "something very similar to what's going on right now with this young girl" found Wednesday, West Hartford police Capt. Lori Coppinger said.
Police said Gault was associated with at least two or three other girls before police found the girl Wednesday.
The cases involving the other girls have not been prosecuted because the frightened girls were reluctant to give statements necessary to pursue the cases. Police said they will be interviewed and additional charges may be filed against Gault.
"The case is definitely ongoing," Blatter said. "There are obviously greater suspicions that are being pursued."
The teen had no obvious external injuries. Investigators would not speculate on what she might have experienced during the past year or if she was held against her will.
Blatter said the girl remained in protective custody Thursday so investigators could continue talking with her.
"In reality, even in the best of circumstances it might not be in the child's best interest to go back immediately to their family," he said.
Police said they had already established that Gault knew the missing girl, and said he and the girl's parents had some sort of undisclosed business transaction in the year before she disappeared.
Cell phone records showed that Gault and the teen talked often before she vanished, Blatter told CNN.
"There was an inordinate amount of contact via cellular phone and then, during follow ups, there were a lot of other circumstances that led us to believe there was an inappropriate relationship," he said.
Officers had questioned Gault several times, but he always denied any involvement in her disappearance. They served a search warrant on his home Wednesday morning, seeking a DNA sample and other evidence.
The girl was held in a locked tiny room, about 3 feet high and 4 to 5 feet deep. The doorway was hidden by a bureau.
Blatter said it did not appear the girl lived in the hidden room, and that police did not find bedding or other items that would suggest it was used as living space.
"We have some mixed signals at this point," Blatter told CNN Thursday. "There's some speculation that she actually has been out of the house, possibly out of state a number of times, but it has clearly been a very interesting lifestyle from what we have seen so far, and definitely not very healthy."
Police were unsure how long she had been inside. They said she could not have opened the locked, barricaded door on her own.
A 15-year-old boy was also living at the house, though it wasn't clear whose child he was. The boy's case was referred to the Department of Children and Families, which also will decide if the missing girl should be returned to her parents.
Neighbor Linda Abel Palakewitz said she did not know the couple well and had never seen the girl, whose picture she was shown by a detective Wednesday afternoon.
"To think that they can go and do that and have a child captive," she said. "No one knows what goes on inside closed doors.
“I cried for her. ... You’re only a child once in your life."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.