LOCKPORT, N.Y. — It was a dangerous sex offender and career criminal who tried to kidnap a six-year-old Wheatfield girl, and not a neighbor, say authorities in Niagara County, who said that the man initially accused in June is completely exonerated after spending 12 days in jail.
Salvatore Prezioso was charged on June 28 after a woman on Ward Road said she woke up to find a man carrying her daughter down the outside steps of her home.
The District Attorney said that Larry Keiper of Niagara Falls, a two-time violent felon who was out on parole, is now charged, and that Prezioso, who works as a peer counselor to people suffering with mental illness, is a free man; shaken but home with family.
"Mr. Prezioso suffered the indignity of being publicly labeled as a predator. Sal is hopeful that this nightmare will serve to remind the public that a rush to judgment is never fair and that an arrest is never tantamount to guilt," said Theresa Prezioso, Salvatore Prezioso's attorney.
Keiper was initially convicted in 1983 in California for a crime against a young girl that the sheriff called "extremely violent, and frankly, scary." Keiper is a Level Three sex offender, the most serious level.
Authorities said Keiper cut off his ankle monitor on June 22. The attempted kidnapping on Ward Road happened six days later.
On June 29, police arrested 64-year-old Keiper on a trespassing charge in the same area of Ward Road. Authorities say DNA evidence linked him to the attempted kidnapping.
Since then, the sheriff said Keiper was picked up and taken to jail on charges of criminal trespass, before forensics zeroed in on him.
"This guy is an animal. He prowled around Niagara County and almost raped a young girl, and besides that, he sent someone else to jail for 12 days. I'm not saying we could have prevented it, but our chances were much better if we knew," said Sheriff Jim Voutour, D-Niagara County.
If convicted, the parole violation alone would send Keiper back to prison until 2022.
He was arraigned Tuesday morning on charges of attempted kidnapping, burglary and endangering the welfare of a child and is due back in court July 17th.