Bret Lee Thompson: Alleged child sex assaulter found sleeping in van behind NJ Walmart

Update: The nationwide manhunt for Bret Lee Thompson, accused of kidnapping an eight-year-old girl from a southwest Denver alley and sexually assaulting her, didn't end in dramatic fashion.

According to the FBI, authorities in Brunswick, New Jersey found him sleeping in his van, which was parked behind a Walmart.

The next question for Thompson involves extradition from NJ. If he decides not to contest it, Denver District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough tells the Denver Post, he could be back in Colorado in a few weeks. If he puts up a fight, the delay might run into months.

In the meantime, the family and friends of the victim, not to mention folks in the neighborhood, are undoubtedly feeling a sense of relief to know Thompson's white Pontiac Montana won't be rolling up again. Look below to read our previous coverage.

Update, 11:18 a.m. June 13: The manhunt for Bret Lee Thompson, suspected of kidnapping an eight-year-old girl in a southwest Denver alley and then sexually assaulting her, appears to be over.

Thompson is reportedly in custody after being captured in, of all places, New Jersey.

Thompson has ties to Louisiana, where a video of a purse snatcher who resembled him surfaced following the incident. Cops subsequently determined he wasn't the person in the clip. But because he was featured on America's Most Wanted, eyeballs around the country were peeled for him -- and the men and women of the Newark Safe Streets Task Force, which ultimately made the grab, were obviously no exception.

More details are expected later today. In the meantime, look below for our previous coverage.

Update, 8:43 a.m. June 10: The Denver District Attorney's Office has now formally charged Bret Lee Thompson in the kidnapping and sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl in southwest Denver.

At this point, though, the charges have been conferred in absentia -- because Thompson remains at large.

The specific counts Thompson will face when and if he's taken into custody are second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault on a child.

The DA's office encourages anyone with information about Thompson's whereabouts should contact Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (720-913-7867). Look below for our previous coverage.

Update, 6:44 a.m. June 9: The manhunt for Bret Lee Thompson, suspected of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl in Denver last week, seemed pointed in a new direction after a video of a purse-snatcher who resembled him turned up in Louisiana. But no: FBI reps now say the man in the clip isn't Thompson -- but they've released new images of the suspect taken shortly after the crime. See them below.

The images were snapped by a surveillance camera in a Castle Rock convenience store on the morning of Friday, June 3. Because he was apparently headed southbound, he could have been headed for Louisiana, where he's said to have ties, or roughly a gazillion other potential destinations. That's why FBI agents in field offices across the country have been alerted about the case.

Look below to see the pics, including a shot of the white van Thompson is believed to be driving, followed by our earlier coverage:

Update, 9:28 a.m. June 7: The nationwide manhunt for Bret Lee Thompson, suspected of kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl, is now focused on Louisiana.

There, a man who resembles Thompson was caught on video swiping a purse. See the clip below.

The manner in which the video surfaced speaks to the power of social media. Walter Derouen posted the clip of his girlfriend's purse being snatched from the Rockin Whiskey Saloon in New Iberia, Louisiana, with the idea that someone might recognize the scofflaw. Little did he suspect that those who saw the images would connect the man in them to the kidnapping and assault case in Denver.

Thompson, by the way, is reported to have ties to the Baton Rouge area, and the van he allegedly used to transport his young victim may have borne Louisiana plates.

At this point, there's no definitive confirmation the man in the video is Thompson. Judge for yourself, then read our previous coverage below.

Update, 7:52 a.m. June 6: Bret Lee Luckett Thompson, 27, is the subject of a nationwide manhunt at this hour, and for good reason.

Thompson is suspected of kidnapping an eight-year-old girl and sexually assaulting her -- a crime that's got an entire section of the city on edge.

The incident took place last Thursday afternoon. The girl and a friend -- an eleven-year-old boy -- had reportedly headed to an alley near South Raleigh Street and West Virginia Avenue in search of a Chihuahua named J-Lo, which had slipped away.

The kids didn't find the dog, but they discovered a white van parked near a dumpster. The man inside it asked for help putting something in the vehicle -- but what he really wanted was the girl, who he grabbed and spirited away.

Approximately ninety minutes later, the girl wandered into a gas station on Federal Boulevard, saying that she'd been kidnapped. Police initially thought she hadn't been injured, but a medical examination subsequently confirmed that she had been sexually assaulted.

According to the police, the girl provided a treasure trove of information about the suspect -- much more than they would have expected, given her tender age. The result was a detailed police sketch, as well as distinguishing information about the suspect, including the presence of a tattoo on his inner arm featuring an "SS" design.

Before long, Denver Police and the FBI, which supplemented the original $2,000 reward offered for info in the case with another $10,000, focused their attention on Thompson, who's now been named in an arrest warrant. The cops, who note that the suspect also goes by the first name Wyatt, also have put out more details about the white van in question. They believe it was a 1999 Pontiac Montana with Colorado license plates 697WJA, or Louisiana license plates STV813.

In addition, several people have forward to say they thought a man matching the description of the suspect had spent part of the week at the Denver Rescue Mission. The cops point out that Thompson has lived in rural areas and has worked with horses in the past.

Of course, people near where the crime took place are more interested in what Thompson may have done to the eight-year-old girl. They're keeping a close eye on their own kids for fear that the white van may drive past again. To quell these fears, the DPD has made the case a top priority, as has the FBI, which is said to have fifty agents devoted to rounding up Thompson.

Look below to see a larger photo of Thompson, a snapshot of a van like the one he may be driving, a 9News report, and our earlier coverage.

Original item, 1:27 p.m. June 3: When the Denver Police Department initially shared information about the kidnapping of an eight-year-old girl yesterday, officers said she hadn't been injured. Unfortunately, they were wrong. The DPD now confirms that the child was sexually assaulted -- a terrible revelation that no doubt helped prompt the FBI to get involved in the investigation.

The incident took place at about 1:20 p.m. in the 400 block alley of South Raleigh Street and South Stuart Street. The man reportedly pulled up to the girl and a friend in a windowless white cargo van and asked for help putting something in the vehicle -- at which point he grabbed the girl. She turned up about ninety minutes later at a convenience store on Federal Boulevard.

The suspect is described as being a white male with short brown hair, green or hazel eyes and light facial hair on his chin, as well as two tattoos on his upper right arm -- one sporting unknown letters, another featuring "SS." He wore a white T-shirt, blue jeans and sunglasses.

The original reward for information leading to the man's capture and conviction was $2,000. The FBI has added another $10,000, bringing the total to $12,000. Anyone with information is encouraged to call 720-913-2000 or 720-913-STOP (7867).

Here's a larger look at a composite sketch of the suspect.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Victoria Barry charged in wrong-way crash that killed Lilly Duncan, leaving daughter an orphan."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts