SMYRNA, Ga. (NEWS CENTER Maine) — A teenage girl who went missing from a foster home in Readfield, Maine last month was found safe in Georgia, and the man who brought her there fatally shot himself, according to police.
Police believe Heavenlee Benjamin, 14, left her foster home after Robert Gooden, 35, of Smyrna traveled to Maine to meet Benjamin, according to Maine Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland.
McCausland said authorities in were able to track Benjamin to Gooden's Smyrna home off Park Edge Drive. Maine State Police issued an arrest warrant for Gooden on Monday, charging him with criminal restraint.
According to the Smyrna Police Department, Maine authorities then tipped them off to the teen's location, and they went ot Gooden's home around 8 a.m. Tuesday.
While officers were searching the downstairs area of his home, and before they made contact with Gooden, officers said they heard a gunshot from upstairs. That's where they found Gooden with a fatal gunshot wound.
According to McCausland, Gooden met Benjamin online. The teen was reported missing on Feb. 27 and hadn't been seen since.
Smyrna Police said Benjamin was taken into protective custody and will be reunited with her parents back home in Maine.