Thursday, January 24, 2008

Repeat SEx Offender abducts 7 year old from school

A suspect police believed snatched a young girl from a Centreville elementary school Tuesday while wearing an electronic-monitoring bracelet remained in custody Wednesday afternoon.

After entering the school through a door that had been left ajar, the suspect told the girl, whom he'd found drinking from a water fountain, that a teacher wanted to see her outside, police said.

The suspect also is accused of attempting to sexually assault the child. A witness saw him lying on top of the girl on the ground outside the school building near the Dumpsters.

Centreville Police Detective Kiwan Guyton said the man is a 20-year-old registered sex offender on parole for a crime he committed as a juvenile in 2004. Guyton would not discuss the nature of that crime.

Guyton was withholding the identity of the suspect pending charges. Police expect to complete their investigation and send the case today to the St. Clair County state's attorney, he said.

The girl was kidnapped from Lalumier Elementary School at 6702 Bond Ave. at 2:32 p.m. Tuesday.

The man entered the school through a door off the gym/cafeteria, went through the multipurpose room and approached the girl in a hallway, Cahokia School District 187 Superintendent Jana Bechtoldt said.

"Obviously, we're very distraught over this situation," Bechtoldt said. "Our policy is to have all the doors in the school building locked during the school day except for one door by the office. Unfortunately, in this instance, the door was locked but the door was slightly ajar. The last person that had either entered or exited that door did not make sure the door was latched. The door was locked, but it didn't shut all the way. The doors were apparently out of alignment."

The door was repaired Wednesday to ensure it will close automatically, Bechtoldt said. All other doors throughout the school building were being checked Wednesday to ensure they all fully closed.

Lalumier has about 370 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The suspect approached the girl as she was getting a drink from a water fountain and told her a teacher wanted to see her outside.

"She went outside with him," Bechtoldt said. "She was just doing what she thought she was supposed to do."

Guyton said the mother of the 7-year-old girl called police when her daughter came home crying and in disarray. He added that the girl did not know her kidnapper.

"We were advised that the young man came into the building and possibly took one student out," Guyton said. " We caught him a short time later."

Police arrested the suspect in the 6900 block of Missouri Avenue.

A man from a nearby apartment complex saw the two and shouted at the man. The man took off on foot, and the girl ran home.

"I knew something was wrong when my daughter came home without her coat and book bag. She ran home to me," the child's mother said.

The child's mother is not being identified because her daughter is the victim of a sex crime and identifying the mother could also identify the child. The News-Democrat does not identify victims of sex crimes.

"He took my baby outside. He was lying on her. Somebody saw him lying on her and yelled at him and scared him. He got off of her. The man who saw him told my baby to run home," the mother said.

The mother said her daughter was very upset.

The child was not injured during the kidnapping and attempted assault and was not taken to a doctor.

"I just thank God for protecting my baby. God is good. God is always good," the mother said.

She said she is unsure whether she will allow her child to return to Lalumier.

Lalumier parents picking up their children after school Wednesday said the news shocked them. "I really didn't know what to think," said Tanya Townsend, whose children attend kindergarten and first and third grades at the school. "But if it weren't this school, it would've been another school. (Sexual predators) have their ways of luring kids in."

School officials reviewed security policies and are considering several options to beef up security at the school, Bechtoldt said.

"We are looking at adding 17 new video cameras in the building so all the doors, entrances and hallways can be monitored continuously throughout the day," Bechtoldt said. "We are also looking at the possibility of having all the doors locked during the day and having everybody buzzed in and out of the school. I know it won't be very popular with some parents, but it's something we are looking at to protect our children."

Social workers were at the school throughout the day to meet with children and parents and discuss any fears or concerns following the incident.

No comments: