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Man found with missing Vt. teen faces judge - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Man found with missing Vt. teen faces judge

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. -

William Smith shook his head as he walked into court in cuffs. The 47-year-old convicted sex offender is accused of taking a 16-year-old girl out of state earlier this month.

"She is safe. She's in the best care right now. She's getting the best help that she can get," said Billy Pfaff, who volunteered to bring the missing girl home.

Smith is not charged with kidnapping or harming the girl, but prosecutors say an ongoing investigation could change that.

In the meantime, he is accused of failing to comply with the sex offender registry and violating probation. Attorneys outlined a lengthy prior criminal history.

"He has six failures to appear, he has two felony convictions, he has sex crimes charges, he has failure to register as a sex offender on at least two occasions," Franklin County Deputy State's Attorney Diane Wheeler said.

Police started looking for Smith earlier this month after learning a teenage girl from Alburgh may be with him. Four days after being reported missing, the girl and Smith-- who's reportedly homeless-- were found near a Walmart in Connecticut.

"Last people knew, he was living in his car," Wheeler said. "In fact, that was the car that was located when we found Mr. Smith."

Pfaff says he volunteered and successfully found the missing girl tracing the GPS location of Smith's cellphone. The former private investigator got involved after hearing about Smith's past.

"The things that I was seeing on Facebook posts about her missing was other families and people making comments that he had done things to other girls, so I thought the seriousness of the case was pretty bad," Pfaff said.

The circumstances behind the girl's disappearance and trip with Smith are still unclear. But a judge found enough concern with Smith's other charges to keep him behind bars without bail.

"I do not find any conditions of release would be sufficient to protect the public or to ensure that Mr. Smith would appear in court and/or abide by his probation conditions which he has failed to do multiple times," Franklin County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Rainville said.

Smith has entered a plea of not guilty. No word on when he could face additional charges.

Police say the girl is in DCF custody and was before she disappeared. WCAX News is no longer identifying the girl to protect her privacy.

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