Sex offender arrested in Calgary child abduction

Calgary police said Friday that John Francis Dionne, who is suspected of child abduction, has been taken into custody.

Girl released after suspect let go after traffic stop

Police in Calgary issued Canadawide arrest warrants after a man abducted a girl from a mall on Thursday, later releasing her. This surveillance camera image depicts the Dodge Caravan the suspect was believed to have been driving. ((Calgary Police Service))

Calgary police said Friday that John Francis Dionne, who is suspected of child abduction, has been taken into custody.

A known sex offender with a history of violence, police believe Dionne posed as a police officer to abduct a 10-year-old girl from a mall in northeast Calgary.

Dionne, 43, was being sought on countrywide warrants in connection with the abduction of the girl, who was later released from a van in Airdrie and taken to Alberta Children's Hospital as a precaution.

Dionne was arrested at a residence in Linden, Alta., at about 6 p.m. MT by members of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team. 

He is charged with kidnapping, child abduction, assault, robbery and impersonating a police officer, and is currently being interviewed by police.

The incident began when a man posing as a police officer snatched the child from Deerfoot Mall at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The girl had been shopping at the mall with her father when she became separated from him.

A man approached her, claiming to be a police officer and accusing her of shoplifting, officials said.

John Francis Dionne, 43, of Linden, Alta., is suspected of abducting a girl from a Calgary mall on Thursday. (Calgary Police Service)

When the girl resisted, the man grabbed her and forced her into a minivan and drove away with her in the front seat.

RCMP pulled him over for a traffic violation on Highway 567. But the girl — who had not yet been reported missing — was frightened and didn't say anything to the officer, police said. The suspect was issued a speeding ticket and drove away.

A short time later, the suspect let the girl out of the van at a McDonald's restaurant in Airdrie, where she called 911. When officers arrived, she told them she had been kidnapped from Calgary.

"I believe the father was looking through the mall for his daughter when the call came," said Calgary Police Service Insp. Grant Miller.

"She is in good physical health, but again, it's an emotional issue."

Warning issued

In October 2010, RCMP issued a public warning about Dionne, who is a repeat sex offender.

Officials said at the time that Dionne — who is from Linden, which is about 75 kilometres northeast of Calgary — had a history of violence and sexual offences against females between the ages of 10 and 42 years, and that he was a high risk to reoffend. He had recently been diagnosed HIV positive, officials also said.

While he was never formally designated as a high-risk offender, Dionne was considered dangerous and violent, officials clarified on Friday.

Police officials are looking into whether Dionne's criminal history was relayed to the officer who made the traffic stop, said Airdrie RCMP Const. Robert Frizzell.

Further details of Dionne's arrest were not immediately available Friday.