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PUBLIC RELATIONS UNIT
January 23, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact Information: PolicePRUnit@slcgov.com
SLCPD Rescues Teenager Who Used SafeUT App After Being Kidnapped
SALT LAKE CITY — Over the weekend, the Salt Lake City Police Department arrested 26-year-old Jonathan Simonji who is accused of kidnapping a 14-year-old girl.
This investigation started at 3:08 a.m. on Saturday, January 21, 2023, when SLC911 received a call from a person with the SafeUT app who reported a 14-year-old girl being picked up by an adult who refused to let her leave a home located near 300 West 700 North.
Officers responded to the home and saw the teen and Simonji inside.
Officers got the girl safely out of the home. Simonji initially refused to come out of the house and speak with officers.
Officers believe Simonji, while in a car near 700 South 300 East, pulled up next to the girl, while she was walking home, and attempted to lure her inside of his car with alcohol and food. After the girl refused and tried running away, Simonji is accused of forcefully putting her in his car.
Simonji is accused of driving the girl to a nearby rental home where he continued to offer her alcohol and refused to let her leave.
The girl later told officers she downloaded the SafeUT app and communicated with a staff member after not being able to get a hold of friends or family members.
After being alerted by SafeUT, officers responded and came to her aid.
After approximately two hours of in-person communication, officers convinced Simonji to come out of the house and safely took him into custody.
Because of the nature of the investigation, the SLCPD Special Victims Unit (SVU) responded to help officers. SVU detectives receive specialized training in investigating cases involving crimes against children.
Officers booked Simonji into the Salt Lake County Jail on one count of second-degree felony Kidnapping.
Simonji and the victim are not previously known to each other, and this is believed to be a stranger-related incident.
The SLCPD reminds community members to always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. If you can, make sure you walk with someone you know and trust. Although safety apps and text to 9-1-1 are increasingly becoming more popular, the SLCPD reminds community members that often, the fastest way to reach help in an emergency is by calling 9-1-1.
Charges are only allegations, and every arrested person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Salt Lake City Police Department is not the custodian of record for jail booking photos. Utah Code 17-22-30 mostly prohibits the release of jail booking photos. Generally, a jail booking photo can only be released by the custodian of record after a conviction or when law enforcement determines the person is a fugitive or an imminent threat to a person or public safety. In Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office is the custodian of record for jail booking photos.
The SafeUT app provides a way to connect to licensed counselors who are ready to listen to any sized crisis or concern. Support is immediate and confidential, and as easy as reaching for your phone and sending that first message. For more information, please visit https://safeut.org/.
Because the investigation involves a teen, there is no other information available for release.