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Police Credit HLN’s Nancy Grace With Helping Recover Abducted Girl

It made for a nice moment on HLN’s Nancy Grace Friday night: an abducted 12 year old girl, missing since Monday, was found–alive–in San Francisco just in time for the start of Grace’s Friday show, with fill-in host Sam Champion. Mission accomplished!

At one point in the broadcast, a reporter suggested the good samaritan who tipped police that the girl was in San Francisco (not Florida or elsewhere in the Southeast, as investigators has suspected) credited having seen the story on Nancy Grace. Now, police tell San Francisco television station KTVU it looks like that’s exactly how it happened:

A Safeway spokeswoman said Jeffrey Scott Easely, 32, and the 12-year-old girl never actually made it into the store — they were pan-handling outside when a customer recognized them and called police.

“A witness felt they had seen suspect on Nancy Grace TV show and we believe it’s an accurate statement,” said Sgt. Lynn Tomioka, a SFPD spokesperson.

The girl is in protective custody in San Francisco, and the suspect is facing felony kidnapping charges.

Grace, who comes under fire from detractors who say she’s relentless in banging the drum on stories like this one (she covered this case all week long–airing nonstop looped pictures of the suspect, Jeffrey Scott Easely, and the girl, 12-year-old Brittany Smith), will surely have something to say when she returns to the show Monday night.

Watch the witness revelation here, from HLN:

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