Teen uses SafeUT app to report kidnapping at Airbnb in Salt Lake City

File Image: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 22, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — A 26-year-old man was arrested Saturday after police say a 14-year-old girl used the SafeUT app to report her kidnapping at an Airbnb in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City police responded to the Airbnb after a 14-year-old girl used the real-time chat application to report “she had been picked up by an older male in the Salt Lake City area and taken to an Airbnb,” according to a probable cause statement filed in 3rd District Court.

The teen also stated “she did not feel safe and that the older male had touched her,” the police affidavit says.

Responding officers found Jonathan David-Epp Simonji in bed with the teen at the Airbnb and “pulled [the girl] aside to speak with her and to ensure her safety,” the statement continues.

The teen told police she had been walking home “late at night” when Simonji drove up in a dark gray Chevy Camaro and pulled in front of her, the affidavit states. Simonji asked the teen to get in the car with him and offered her beer and food, police said.

The girl refused and informed Simonji of her age, the affidavit states. The teen “tried to run away and evade Simonji, but Simonji eventually found her.”

After catching up with the teen, “Simonji got out of his vehicle and grabbed [the girl] by the wrists,” the statement continues.

The teen was able to pull away from Simonji, but later became “fearful” that he had a weapon and agreed to get into the vehicle, police said.

Simonji took the teen to an Airbnb in Salt Lake City, where he again offered her alcohol, police said. The teen’s phone had a dead battery, but she was able to charge it at the Airbnb, according to police.

The girl “attempted to contact friends for help but received no answer,” and Simonji tried twice to take away her phone at the Airbnb, the probable cause statement says.

The teen told police “Simonji had removed all his clothing with the exception of a pair of shorts or boxers,” and “began rubbing her back underneath her clothing” on the bed, the affidavit says.

The teen then downloaded and used the SafeUT app to report her situation, and officers responded soon after, police said.

After initially refusing to leave the Airbng, Simonji agreed to step outside, where he was arrested for investigation of kidnapping, second-degree felony. He is being held without bail in the Salt Lake County jail.

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