Homeless man harbored runaway 11-year-old girl, BCSO says

John Martin Kelly III, 65, arrested

Brevard County Sheriff's Office

John Martin Kelly III

MELBOURNE, Fla. - A homeless man is accused of harboring an 11-year-old girl who had run away from home, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

John Martin Kelly III, 65, and the girl became acquainted at the Northgate Shopping Plaza off Wickham Road, according to a news release from authorities.

The child told Kelly that she had run away from home, and he bought her food and offered to let the girl stay with him in his van, as he is homeless, deputies said.

The child had been last seen at her Melbourne home around 2 a.m. Wednesday, investigators said.

Once Kelly learned of the situation, he told the child that he wouldn’t call police or contact the girl’s family. He drove her to a wooded area in Melbourne, where the child eventually ran from Kelly after he fell asleep, according to deputies.

A passerby on Wickham Road near Lake Washington Road happened to recognize the missing girl from a social media post, walking in the area about 9 a.m. The child was then returned to her family.

Kelly was arrested when deputies caught up with him at a convenience store in Melbourne. He has been charged with interfering with child custody and is being held on $2,000 bond at the Brevard County Jail.

Anyone who has additional information regarding this investigation is asked to call Agent Stacie Moore of the Sheriff’s Office at 321-633-8419 or CRIMELINE at 800-423-TIPS (8477).

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