A 48-year-old Unionville man faces multiple life sentences in prison after allegedly kidnapping an 8-year-old Millington area child in the middle of the night and sexually assaulting her for hours before being arrested last Saturday.
David Alex Brigham, Unionville, is charged with 24 counts related to the alleged abduction.
The charges include two counts of kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and 18 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Brigham faces up to life in prison on eight of the counts related to kidnapping and first degree criminal sexual conduct, which by legal definition includes sexual penetration.
Mark Reene, prosecutor, Tuscola County, said the child has been placed in protective custody and undergoing extensive counseling and treatment.
“This case is amongst the worst we’ve seen,” Reene told The Advertiser Friday. “It’s the ultimate nightmare. When you have a child this age, in these circumstances, and what has happened – that is what aptly describes it – a nightmare.”
Reene said the child was abducted from a home in “the area of Swaffer Road in Millington” sometime during the early morning hours of July 30.
The child was reported missing at 5:20 a.m. and the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department began an immediate search for the child. Reene described Brigham’s acquaintance with the child as a “former relative through marriage.” He added that Brigham had no permission to enter the residence for any reason, such as babysitting.
Because of the ongoing investigation, Reene couldn’t provide details of where the alleged assaults took place beyond saying “they were in the car, in the area.”
Following the alleged assaults, at about 10:30 a.m., Brigham and the child returned to the child’s residence while law enforcement was there, Reene said. For legal reasons, he couldn’t comment on why Brigham and the child returned to the residence.
Reene said Brigham was immediately taken into custody.
Initially, his bond was set at $3 million, but it was later withdrawn completely – an option that Reene said can be used in certain extreme cases, such as Brigham’s. A probable cause hearing is set for Monday, Aug. 8, and a preliminary exam is set for Aug. 15.
Reene said the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department, Child Advocacy Center of Tuscola County, and a team of medical professionals should be credited with handling the situation “in the worst of circumstances.”
Reene said the gruesome nature of the case affected those involved in the investigation.
“People who have worked on cases of this type for decades are impacted by it,” Reene said.
Brigham’s primary residence was 3267 Bay St. in Unionville, though Reene said “he was more of a floater.” He is not listed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry.
Residents and people who work in Unionville had mixed reaction when learning of the charges against Brigham, who some said has lived in Unionville for years.
A woman who lives next door to Brigham and didn’t want to be identified said she didn’t know her neighbor had been arrested. Upon learning of why he was arrested, she said she was especially glad because she has a 15-year-old daughter.
“Stuff like that…that’s why we lock our doors all the time now,” she said.
Billie Jo Gaeth, an employee at the Sunoco, 6516 Center St., Unionville, said Brigham came into the station to buy cigarettes “fairly often.”
“I mean he looks kind of creepy but he was always polite and kept to himself,” she said.
Kelly Wise, who lives across the street from Brigham, said the idea of someone facing such charges living so close made her feel sick.
“It makes me want to throw up,” Wise said. “I have a little 6-year-old niece who stays here with me all the time.
“We don’t let her out of our sight because you have idiots like this running around,” Wise said.
Michelle Currey, owner of Vintage Treasures Collectibles, 2969 Cass St., Unionville, said she wasn’t surprised to learn someone from a small village like Unionville is charged with such crimes.
“You see a lot of it nowadays,” Currey said. “And you notice it more when you have kids because your kids are out there. My 12-year-old daughter wants to walk to the library and I say ‘No, because there are a lot of bad people out there.’”
Reene said investigators are asking anyone with additional information about Brigham to call the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department at 989-673-8161.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org