Ex-wife accused of hiding kidnapper’s prior sexual abuse

At least two years before a Mesa County man kidnapped a 9-year-old girl and threatened to kill her, police allege the man’s ex-wife had known he had sexually molested another girl and tried to keep the information from authorities.

Amy Renee Chapman, 33, was in Mesa County Jail on a $5,000 bond Friday and faces felony charges of attempting to influence a public servant and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, plus a misdemeanor charge of child abuse.

Chapman, who divorced Byerrum in September 2007, had been told by a girl up to a year and half earlier that Byerrum had molested her, authorities allege.

Officers from the Grand Junction Police Department contacted Chapman for an interview a couple days after Byerrum, 41, was arrested for kidnapping and threatening to kill the 9-year-old girl June 1.

At that time, Chapman told police she suspected Byerrum may have molested the girl but she couldn’t prove it, and that the girl had told her about a year to a year and a half earlier that Byerrum had once molested her, according to an arrest affidavit.

That’s the same story the girl initially told investigators who interviewed her at the Western Slope Center for Children on June 5, 2008.

However, the girl and Byerrum were interviewed at the center about three months later, and the girl told investigators she had been molested by Byerrum more than once, but that Chapman had told the girl to only report the one incident “to keep the rest, not to be told,” the affidavit said.

The girl told investigators she told Chapman of the other times Byerrum molested her and made her watch while he performed sex acts on himself, and Chapman divorced Byerrum after that, the affidavit said.

Byerrum is slated for sentencing Feb. 25, when he is expected to receive at least 64 years in prison, according to terms of his plea agreement.

Byerrum, who had prior felony convictions for kidnapping, second-degree burglary and escape, was free on bond when he kidnapped the 9-year-old girl, placing her in the trunk of his car, and drove her away from her home.


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