A pizza delivery driver was honored by police for his role in helping two young girls escape their alleged rapist father after he noticed one of the girls naked in a motel room where he was delivering food.
Mark Buede was honored Tuesday night by the Lexington Police Department for his efforts to alert authorities about the suspicious scene he observed on the job—launching an investigation and eventual charges of rape and sexual abuse for a father accused of abusing his two girls, NBC News reports.
Buede had been working his shift for Papa John’s in November 2018 when he dropped off an order at a Lexington motel. When the man staying in the motel room came to the door, Buede also noticed a “little girl that didn’t have any clothes on” on the bed.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” he later told The Lexington Herald-Leader. “I just knew it wasn’t right.”
Buede walked back to his car, where his own adult daughter Faith Buede was waiting. She was also an employee at Papa John’s and had just gotten off of her shift when she decided to ride along with her dad. The pair decided to call 911 and report the suspicious activity.
Three Lexington police officers soon responded to the scene, and heard a young girl “scream” as they knocked on the door.
Inside the room, they discovered two girls “nude” in the room, police spokesperson Breanna Angel told NBC News.
The discovery would ultimately launch an investigation that would lead to the arrest of 36-year-old Justin Elam, who is now charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual abuse. Authorities believe he had been abusing his own daughters.
One of the girls was reportedly under the age of 12. Investigators also discovered several videos on his cell phone of him having sex with a minor under the age of 16, according to a report from WKYT shortly after his arrest.
Police believe without Buede’s efforts they may not have stopped the abuse and honored the delivery driver with a public service medal at a police awards banquet Tuesday.
“The department is incredibly grateful and proud of the people who work every day to keep Lexington safe!,” Lexington Police said in a tweet announcing the honor.
The three officers who worked on the case, William Phillips, Zakary Ridener and Corey Sutton, were also honored for their efforts.
“It was a difficult night for all three of us,” Phillips told the local paper. “It sticks with us to this day.”
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