Crime & Courts

Reported missing teen charged with filing false police report

A photo of Marley McKenna Spindler posted to a Facebook page created to help find her. The teen was reported missing Aug. 20 and found safe on Wednesday in Mount Pleasant. She has been charged with filing a false police report.
A photo of Marley McKenna Spindler posted to a Facebook page created to help find her. The teen was reported missing Aug. 20 and found safe on Wednesday in Mount Pleasant. She has been charged with filing a false police report.

A 16-year-old Myrtle Beach girl, who was reported missing almost a week after she failed to show up for classes at Socastee High School, was charged with filing a false police report after she was found safe in Mount Pleasant on Wednesday and told police she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted, police said.

In a police report released Thursday by Mount Pleasant police, it showed that on Wednesday “this case is cleared by arrest” after detectives with that department and Horry County police interviewed Marley McKenna Spindler.

The 16-year-old was charged with filing a false police report and at 10:44 p.m. Wednesday officials with the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice were notified of the incident, according to the report.

Spindler or her parents could not be reached Thursday for comment about the developments.

In a post on a Facebook page set up to help find Spindler, her family wrote: “We now would like to ask you to please allow us the time and privacy we need to begin to healing as a family. This page will remain open and we welcome you to leave your positive messages of love and support for Marley McKenna and her family. God Bless Ya’ll!”

Spindler initially told Mount Pleasant police that she had been kidnapped and was sexually assaulted while in Charleston, but after being questioned by detectives she was charged with filing a false police report.

In addition to Horry County police officers, FBI agents and officers with the Mount Pleasant Police Department and the Isle of Palms Police Department actively worked on the case, according to a Mount Pleasant police report.

Spindler’s case also garnered national attention and efforts to find her were featured on syndicated TV shows such as Nancy Grace and Fox News.

Horry County police Lt. Raul Denis said he was unsure about any attempts to recoup costs or how much the department spent on searches for the teen, who was last seen Aug. 20 when she met friends at a Surfside Beach fast food restaurant before school.

Spindler was found about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after an officer with Project Seahawk, a liaison with the Mount Pleasant department, notified a nearby officer that Spindler’s vehicle, a silver 2002 Ford Escape, crossed the Ravenel Bridge onto Coleman Boulevard, according to the report.

The Mount Pleasant officer saw Spindler driving the vehicle, confirmed it was the one connected to the case by checking the license plate and stopped her in a shopping plaza parking lot on Coleman Boulevard, according to the report. The officer noted the windows were down and Spindler said she didn’t know she had been reported missing.

In the report, Spindler offered the officer “little response” when she was questioned about telling her parents that she was leaving the Myrtle Beach area. She told the officer she was OK and that she was on the way home.

Spindler then told the officer that she had been asked to pick up a drunk friend in Myrtle Beach and someone she didn’t know got into the car and told her where to go and that if she didn’t do it she would get into trouble, according to the report. The officer stopped Spindler from continuing with the details and asked her to speak to investigators, who had arrived at the parking lot.

Officers secured the vehicle, called Spindler’s parents for permission to seize it and searched it for evidence.

When questioned by detectives, Spindler told them “she had been kidnapped from the Myrtle Beach area and had been sexually assaulted since being here in the Charleston area,” according to the report. She told Horry County detectives the same story so officials took her to be medically evaluated.

Spindler was taken to the pediatric emergency room at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for an exam, according to the report. A sexual assault kit was collected to be sent to the State Law Enforcement Division. Results of the kit had not been returned as of Thursday afternoon.

Officers then took Spindler back to the Mount Pleasant Police Department. During the ride, an officer reported Spindler spoke casually about vacationing at the Isle of Palms a month before with her parents and a friend, according to the report. She also told the officer about being kidnapped from a hotel parking lot in Myrtle Beach and being forced to withdraw money from the bank.

Spindler also referred to “us” at one point and when questioned by the officer she said it was just her and the kidnapper, according to the report.

Spindler was last seen Aug. 20 when she met her friends at a Chick-fil-A on S.C. 544 before school and Horry County police said Monday that evidence suggested she “left alone and not under duress or coercion.”

Police learned that Spindler went to pick up a man, identified as Jeremy, to take him home in the Garden City Beach area of Georgetown County.

Police identified and cleared “Jeremy” by 7:45 p.m. Aug. 21, Denis said.

Police spotted Spindler on Myrtle Beach’s surveillance cameras driving down Ocean Boulevard and withdrawing less than $100 from her bank, Denis said. Spindler had changed clothes before withdrawing the money on Aug. 20, he said.

“We have no reason to believe that there is any foul play involved in this case,” Denis said Monday.

Denis said a search of her cellphone revealed evidence that she left alone.

Spindler’s father called her cellphone at 4 p.m. Aug. 20 and a clerk with Ocean Reef Resort answered and said the phone had been found earlier in the day in the resort parking lot. Detectives took the phone as part of their investigation.

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