Updated 05/07/2012 11:25 AM
Man wanted for kidnapping in east Charlotte caught in SC
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Update: Cristino Leon was brought back to Charlotte and is being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail.
CHARLOTTE -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say the man wanted for kidnapping a 12-year-old girl from her apartment in east Charlotte is in custody.
South Carolina State Troopers arrested Cristino Leon, 39, in Spartanburg County during a traffic stop around 7 p.m. Sunday. Leon was wanted on two kidnapping warrants after police say he took his niece from her home on Saturday.
Residents of the Silver Oak apartments off Monroe Road said news of the kidnapping is unsettling.
"I didn't even think this could happen in a neighborhood like this," said one man who asked not to be identified.
Some neighbors said the situation is especially frightening because so many children live and play in the area.
"Kids come out here they play all the time, they play in this area," said Tiyoka Phifer, who was walking with her daughter.
Police say the 12-year-old victim's mother got home from work Saturday morning to find her daughter missing and another relative bound by duct tape.
Detectives believe Leon, the girl's uncle, is responsible.
Police say she escaped from Leon when he stopped for food off Interstate 85 in Jefferson, Ga., 190 miles from Charlotte. The girl is OK and has been reunited with family.
Residents say the area has seen crime in the past, but a kidnapping hits home even though the suspect and victim are related.
"I would like to see a patrol car sitting out here maybe a little more often," said Tony Thomas.
Neighbors called it a scary reminder of the dangers kids face.
"You have to watch your children," Phifer said. "You have to watch who's around your children 24-7 because you never know. Things like this happen all the time."
Leon will be held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center until prosecutors are able to extradite him back to Charlotte to face charges.