Crime

‘I just knew it wasn’t right.’ Pizza delivery man honored for helping rescue girls from abuse

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Mark Buede was delivering a pizza when he saw something suspicious and called 911. That call led to the rescue of two abused young girls, Lexington police said.

The pizza delivery man and the three officers who investigated the case were among many people honored for their good deeds by the Lexington Police Department Tuesday night. The annual awards banquet was held at the Lexington Convention Center.

Buede, who works a second job delivering pizzas for Papa John’s, said that when he knocked on the door of a Lexington motel that night last November, a man came to the door. “There was a little girl that didn’t have any clothes on” on the bed behind him.

Buede’s adult daughter, Faith Buede, who also works for Papa John’s, had taken the man’s pizza order over the phone. She had just gotten off work and was riding in the car with her father when he delivered the pizza that night.

“I got back to the car, and I said, ‘That didn’t seem right’” Buede said.

He and Faith Buede decided to call 911.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Buede said. “I just knew it wasn’t right.”

Three Lexington police officers responded to the motel.

“After knocking on the door to the room, they heard a ‘scream’ from a young girl,” the police department said in an account of the event that was printed in the awards program. Inside the room, they found “two young girls hiding behind a bed.”

“This discovery led the officers to begin an in-depth investigation, which included ensuring the safety of the girls. Over the course of a few hours, probable cause was developed indicating that the man had been abusing his daughters,” police said.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.

The officers worked throughout the night and into the next morning, ultimately charging the father with multiple offenses.

Without Buede’s intervention, those children would have suffered further abuse, police said.

“I’ve got kids,” Buede said. “I’m going to protect kids if I can.”

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Mark Buede and his daughter, Faith Buede, met three officers from the Lexington Police Department who worked a child abuse case that the Buedes helped them uncover. Karla Ward kward1@herald-leader.com

Buede said he didn’t know the outcome of his phone call until he read about it in the awards program.

“I knew that something happened because they called me a couple of times to ask some questions,” he said, “but I didn’t know exactly what happened.”

Buede received a public service medal for his efforts, and officers William Phillips, Zakary Ridener and Corey Sutton received professional esteem awards for their work on the case.

“It was a difficult night for all three of us,” Phillips said. “It sticks with us to this day.”

The department said the three officers’ teamwork “is a testament to their duty to serve and protect, which has earned the esteem of colleagues and supervisors.”

Others honored by the Lexington police Tuesday ran the gamut from civilians and officers who rendered first aid to call-takers who helped crime victims walk away safely.

Telecommunicator Clara Green was awarded a public service medal for the way she handled a cab driver’s call for help when two young women held a gun to his head in December 2017.

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Clara Green, a telecommunicator with the Lexington Police Department, was awarded a public service medal at the department’s annual awards banquet Tuesday night. Karla Ward kward1@herald-leader.com

Green said that when she answered the call that night, all she could hear on the other end of the line for a few minutes was movement, so she thought it was probably an accidental “pocket dial.”

“We get hundreds of those,” said Green, who has worked for the police department for 25 years.

But as she was about to hang up and try to call the number back, she said she heard someone on the other end say, “Please don’t shoot me.”

The cab driver then pretended to be talking to his brother. “Through a series of contrived questions and answers,” along with mapping software, Green was able to direct police officers to the taxi, police said. The two suspects were arrested.

Green said the call was “the longest 20 minutes of my life” as she talked to a man in grave danger.

She said that when the vehicle stopped, she could hear the cab driver jump out, leaving his phone behind.

She said she did get to have one last exchange with the grateful man, though. “He came back to the phone and told me, he says, ‘I love you.’”

Green’s response was the natural one: “I love you, too.”

Range Officer Eric Crayner, who provides firearms and tactical training for the police department, was named 2018 Police Officer of the Year because of “his never quit attitude, professionalism, work ethic, and willingness to put others first,” the program stated.

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Officer Eric Crayner was named 2018 Police Officer of the Year. Gary Watkins Lexington Police Department

Crayner said he was humbled by the honor, and that being a firearms instructor has been “the most enjoyable part” of his 15 years of service to the police department.

Other awards included: detective Jason Newman, Detective of the Year; officer Gregory Marlin, Uniformed Officer of the Year; Sgt. David Flannery II, Supervisor of the Year; Angela Wallace, Civilian Employee of the Year; officer Christopher Johnson, Field Training Officer of the Year, and Sgt. Donnell Gordon, Customer Service of the Year.

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