Chippewa County kidnapping suspect held on $1 million cash bond

22-year-old Trevor Blackburn is expected to be charged Thursday.
22-year-old Trevor Blackburn is expected to be charged Thursday.
22-year-old Trevor Blackburn is expected to be charged Thursday.(COURTESY: CHIPPEWA COUNTY JAIL)
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 7:08 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2022 at 11:19 AM CDT
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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - A Tennessee man is expected to be charged later this week for allegedly kidnapping a 15-year-old Chippewa County girl from her home.

22-year-old Trevor Blackburn is being held at the Chippewa County Jail on $1 million cash bond.

Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk said that Blackburn and the 15-year-old girl had been in contact online, but the teenager tried ending communications. Chippewa County DA Wade Newell said that Blackburn had been blackmailing and threatening the girl during a Tuesday court appearance in which Blackburn appeared by video from jail.

“It became more and more threats and more and more blackmail that occurred as that progressed, which eventually led to the defendant coming here, crossing state lines to come here and abduct the 15-year-old girl,” Newell said.

Charges are expected to be filed Thursday at Blackburn’s next court appearance. The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office is recommending multiple charges to be filed, including kidnapping, burglary and sexual assault of a child.

Newell said that federal prosecutors could file additional charges for Blackburn’s alleged pre-abduction behavior.

“It may be that the feds take the pre-abduction sort of behavior and the state would take the abduction and the sexual assaults and the burglary that occurred here,” Newell said. “But, at least as of now, the state has jurisdiction to handle the sexual exploitation, the child pornography, the sexual blackmail, the kidnapping and the multiple counts of sexual assault and burglary.”

Justin Patchin, a UW-Eau Claire Criminal Justice Professor said it’s common for teenagers to speak with others online, and parents should speak with their kids about those conversations.

“It’s important for parents to ask their kids questions about who they’re interacting with online and just sort of the common sense questions about what you know about this person,” Patchin said. “How do you know that? Is it purely a text-based relationship or have there been images sent back and forth?”

Patchin said parents can use this incident to speak with their children about online communication. He said if something seems off, to get help and talk to a trusted friend or adult. Additional information on cyberbullying and safe internet behavior can be found on the Cyberbullying Research Center website.

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - During the weekend an amber alert was issued for a 15-year-old girl in the Holcombe area.

Now the man authorities said she was with is in the Chippewa County Jail and could face multiple charges.

Around 10 p.m. Sunday night, that suspect, 22-year-old Trevor Blackburn, was found and arrested in Douglas County. A few hours earlier, the teenage victim was found safe in the Cornell area.

Saturday morning, the father of a girl in the Holcombe area told law enforcement officers his daughter was missing.

“He, upon checking her bedroom, noticed she was gone,” Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk said. “He was suspect she might have been a victim of some type of kidnapping due to the fact there was an ongoing investigation with our department in regards to Mr. Blackburn.”

Kowalczyk said since last summer, the sheriff’s office was investigating Blackburn who has most recently been living in Tennessee. The sheriff said Blackburn and the victim were talking to each other online, but the teen had tried ending their connection.

“We’re going to put this puzzle back together as to when he left Tennessee, when he arrived at the airport, how he got to Ruby, Chippewa County,” Kowalczyk said.

Around 2 a.m. Saturday, Kowalczyk said Blackburn and the victim likely left her home on foot. Law enforcement officers used dogs, drones and other technology like pinging Blackburn’s phone to try to find the missing teen.

“On occasion we would get a ping,” Kowalczyk said. “On occasion it would not ping anymore. Again, what I think would happen is that the phone would be turned off and on, so we had a pattern, we had an area. Never did we probably get more than seven miles from the residence with our pings and that.”

Sunday night, the victim ended up at a home in the Cornell area. The people living in the home said the victim came up to the house and rang the doorbell. Hours later, Blackburn was found in Douglas County in a friend’s car.

“With the use of pinging of phones, we were able to locate the vehicle in question, made a traffic stop and arrested Blackburn without incident,” Kowalczyk said.

As the investigation continues, for parents Sheriff Kowalczyk said: “Be aware. Be aware of what your kids are doing. Be concerned. Asked your kids what they’re doing, who they’re associating with, and show them that you do care.”

Blackburn is expected in court Tuesday morning for a bond hearing. The Sheriff’s Office is recommending multiple charges be filed including kidnapping, burglary and sexual assault of a child.