Couple says man accused of attempted kidnapping had shown warning signs

FREIMUTHTACOMA — A Tacoma man is facing attempted kidnapping charges after he allegedly tried to snatch a toddler playing in the park.

The arrest did not surprise one couple, who say they had a run-in with the suspect last month. They think police ignored the warning signs.

“I’m shocked that something like that would happen in broad daylight,” said Drake Waters.

He and other parents at Lincoln Park can’t believe a man tried to grab a 2-year-old boy as he was playing on the slide Saturday.

“Generally, this is a very safe place,” said Delonna Halliday, a mother who lives nearby.

Older kids and parents stepped in and helped detain Leroy Freimuth, who now faces charges of assault and attempted kidnapping.

It’s not the first time he’s been accused of a crime.

“It just made me sick,” said Dawn Markley, when she learned of the arrest. “I just started shaking, I couldn’t believe it. He was just in jail last week.”

Markley and her husband have been keeping tabs on Freimuth, since he allegedly tried to break into their home last month. She said police didn’t arrest him for that. Instead, they took him for a mental health evaluation.

“The police officer told us she would drop him off at the hospital,” she said.  “After that, she had no idea what happened.”

“It boggles my mind that this guy has been allowed to commit crime after crime after crime,” added her husband, Eric. “The cops do nothing about it. They’ll put him on a 72-hour hold, and that’s that. That’s where it ends with him.”

When we talked to Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist last month, he admitted the criminal justice system has a ‘gap’ when it comes to dealing with people suspected of being mentally ill.

“The problem is we have violent offenders who are being found incompetent to stand trial,” he said. “But they’re not incompetent enough for Western State (Hospital) to hold them. So they are going right from offending back into the community.”

But Lindquist said that’s not what happened in this case. Freimuth was arrested on drug charges just days after the incident at the Markleys home. He served nearly a month in jail, and then was released.

But the Markleys say there were warning signs that he was mentally unstable and could commit another crime.

“I can’t imagine they let him out, knowing he has the potential to keep doing this,” said Dawn Markley.

“I almost feel sorry for the guy,” added Eric. “He hasn’t gotten the help that he needs either. I mean, this guy obviously has problems, he needs help.”

Freimuth was arraigned Monday afternoon, and his bail was set at $500,000.  If convicted of all charges, he faces a sentence of up to five years.

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