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Girl who was dragged by dad is now in foster home

Cary Ashby • Updated May 10, 2018 at 8:56 AM

NEW LONDON — A 13-year-old girl is in the custody of Erie County authorities after being dragged across a parking lot made of asphalt and gravel Friday.

The victim is in protective custody at a foster home secured through Erie County Children Services, said New London Police Lt. Joe Hicks, who talked to the girl at the suspected crime scene.

“At the time she was very emotional,” Hicks said. “She was crying, upset (and) crying for help.” 

Photos taken by police of the girl and restraints show the teen’s wrists and ankles were tied together separately in front of her and then connected with more zip ties. She had dark, significant bruises on her back side, leg, arms, wrists and face. Police estimated there was a hole in the back of the girl’s shirt that was four inches wide.

“My belief was the most severe injury was to her left buttock and near her waist where the road rash happened,” Hicks said. “There was some bleeding on the underside of her (left) forearm.

“She had some welts on her thighs where she had been hit,” added the lieutenant, who didn’t know how long the teenager possibly had been abused. “I can only imagine the type of abuse.”

Her father, John L. Hofacker, 39, of 134 W. Main St., New London, was charged with unlawful restraint, a third-degree misdemeanor. He was transported to the Huron County Jail, but was released later.

“She hadn’t been living with him … for many, many years,” Hicks said.

Since early childhood, the girl had lived with her grandparents in Monroeville. Chief Mike Marko said the teenager had “been in and out of a detention home” and her grandparents had custody until April 30.

Police received a 9-1-1 call at 5:23 p.m. Friday about the girl being dragged through a parking lot. Officers arrived at 134 W. Main St., which is near New London Lanes, one minute later.

“She was actually drug to an abandoned building on the property,” Marko said. “She could not stand up.”

Hofacker, according to the police report, told officers “I tied her up. She was trying to run away. I tied her up and I was about to call you.” He was standing outside of a building when police arrived.

In addition to the zip ties, there was an allegation that Hofacker placed a belt around his daughter’s neck. Police confiscated the item and used a special instrument to cut the zip ties off the girl’s wrists and feet.

While at the scene, the girl alleged she had been hit by a green, braided belt, Hicks said. He didn’t see any red marks on her neck, but said the victim reported putting her hand under the belt before it was placed around her neck and “could be pulled tight around her.”

Marko, in an interview Monday with the Reflector, expressed his dismay at the girl’s injuries and how she was being treated.

“I can’t think of any reason you would have to discipline a child like that,” the chief said. “That’s not discipline; that’s torture.”

Firelands Ambulance Service responded to West Main Street with police. Paramedics treated her at the scene and then transported her to Fisher-Titus Medical Center. Hicks said the injuries near the girl’s buttocks and waist weren’t visible when she was in New London, but “those were discovered by the hospital.” 

Marko was asked what his department has heard from New London-area residents after the Reflector broke the story.

“The police department has not heard anything good nor bad,” the chief said.

Hicks, however, has done interviews with multiple media outlets. Reporter Jared Gilmour interviewed the lieutenant for a story that ran in the Miami Herald. Hicks said the company owns several newspaper outlets in the country, with the Miami paper being the largest.

“Channel 8 came down. Channel 3 called; Channel 5 called,” Hicks said.

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