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Authorities: Man charged in connection with runaway said he gave girl drugs

By Eric Fleischauer  

For the Enquirer 

A 22-year-old Decatur man charged with interference with custody after police found him last month with a 16-year-old runaway gave her drugs and alcohol, according to an affidavit by a Morgan County Sheriff’s Office investigator. 

The 16-year-old ran away from her Somerville home April 1 and was found by investigators April 25, according to the sheriff’s office. During the weeks she was gone, the sheriff’s office made several pleas to the public for assistance in finding her. 

Cayce Gage Stepp, whose address is listed both as 811 Prospect Drive SE and 1903 Mud Tavern Road in court documents, was charged with interference with custody, a Class C felony, after the girl was found. 

Investigator John Dickson found the runaway in Hartselle, according to an affidavit he filed in Morgan County District Court last week, and the girl said she had been with Stepp for all but four of the days she was missing. 

During those four days, she was with a friend who later assisted investigators in finding her, Dickson wrote. 

Dickson took statements from Stepp twice April 27, and “he lied on the first statement.” 

In the second statement, Stepp admitted he and the girl came up with a plan for her to run away from her residence and came up with a time at which Stepp would pick her up. By court order the girl resided with a distant cousin, who contacted the sheriff’s office when the girl disappeared. The girl’s mother had legal custody, according to the affidavit.  

“Cayce Stepp also admitted that he and (the 16-year-old) smoked marijuana, snorted cocaine and drank alcohol while they were together and were planning on running away together,” Dickson wrote. 

The girl was transported to Parkway Medical Center for evaluation after she was found. 

Interference with custody is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The crime is committed, according to Alabama law, when a person “knowingly takes or entices … any child under the age of 18 from the lawful custody of its parent, guardian or other lawful custodian.” 

Stepp was released from Morgan County Jail on $50,000 bail last Thursday. 

District Judge Charles Langham Monday scheduled Stepp’s preliminary hearing for June 24. Stepp is represented by Decatur attorney Tina Ogle, who did not return a call or email this week.