A Fort Benning employee checked into a Holiday Inn Express & Suites with a 15-year-old girl on the day investigators said she was possibly molested, a Columbus police detective testified Tuesday in Recorder's Court.
Richard Alan Weinzetl, 54, of Hamilton, Ga., pleaded not guilty to child molestation of the girl on Jan. 17 at the 7336 Bear Lane hotel in Columbus. Although attorney Brett Adams of Newnan, Ga., sought bond for Weinzetl to return to work on post, Judge Julius Hunter ordered the suspect held without bond and bound the charge over to Muscogee Superior Court.
Police detective Mark Scruggs of the Special Victims Unit said the Columbus Police Department received an 11 a.m. call Jan. 18 from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent about a possible child molestation at the hotel. The room was paid for in cash by the man.
Scruggs noted there was snow on the ground in Columbus and temperature was in the 20s. In an interview with hotel staff, Scruggs said Weinzetl left the hotel an returned later that day.
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A search by the GBI was conducted at the hotel and Weinzetl was interviewed. He first didn’t disclose that he took the girl to the hotel. He said the girl was in the bathroom while he was in the bedroom.
The girl told authorities that nothing happened in the room. On March 1, the girl told her foster mother that the suspect kissed her, improperly touched and attempted to have sex but she told him to stop. “She was trying to protect him,” the detective said.
During interview of the girl at the Children’s Treehouse, Scruggs said the girl said nothing happened on the first interview. In a second interview, she said he kissed her and attempted to have sex with her.
The girl felt comfortable enough during the interview because a police officer spoke to her in German, her native language. The child advocate was also present during that interview.
A warrant was served to get DNA from the suspect. Tests were performed on the girl’s clothing and a rape investigation was conducted. It showed an absence of male DNA, Scruggs said.