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Attempted child abductions, lurings

A number of of attempted child abductions and lurings have been reported in the Puget Sound region.

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TACOMA — Tacoma School Patrol officers are on the lookout near Gray Middle School after a 14-year-old girl reported a masked man repeatedly trying to lure her into his car.

“He would drive slowly and roll down the window and try to get her to come to the car.  The last incident, he actually had on a ski mask and held up some women’s underwear and asked her to come to the car, and that’s when she reported it,” said Tacoma police officer Loretta Cool.


Manitou Park Elementary School in Tacoma. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

On Thursday, just down the street at South 66th Street and Adams, near Manitou Park Elementary, there was a similar incident.

“The second victim says this was a white male wearing a black hoodie.  He didn’t have the mask on the time he approached her,” said Cool.

Dan Voelpel, with Tacoma Public Schools, says the district alerted parents of both schools with a letter home and a recorded phone message so they could be aware and to ask if they saw anything to call police.

“You see it on the news all the time, but when it hits you that close to home, that’s when it becomes a reality.  That could have been my child or my child could be next,” said a parent named Gary.

Patricia Hersey has a daughter in fourth grade at Manitou Park Elementary and a sixth-grader at Gray Middle.

“Now I’m unsure of my kids walking by themselves.  That’s really scary,” said Hersey.  “I told my daughter to beware of her surroundings and if someone should approach her in a parked car and talk to her for her to scream and go to a neighbor’s house.”

Police say both girls described this man’s car as a dark gray, metallic or black four-door imported sedan.  If you have any information, call 911.

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Two female students reported separate luring incidents in Issaquah this week, and both described a similar suspect, the city’s communication manager said in a safety alert Friday.

schoolThe manager, Autumn Monahan, said that, on Thursday, an Issaquah student reported that she was approached by a man who attempted to lure her from a bus stop on East Sunset Way and encouraged her to join him at his residence. Monahan didn’t disclose the school or the age of the child.

The suspect was described as a white man in his mid-40s with short, curly gray/brown hair and short facial hair. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt, jeans and hiking boots.

A similar incident was reported Wednesday, Monahan said, where a man driving a white beat-up sedan drove alongside a female student as she walked home from her bus stop in the 2100 block of Newport Way Northwest.

Issaquah police are looking for any information that may help in identifying this suspect. If anyone knows more about these incidents, contact Issaquah police at 425-837-3200.

Police and the Issaquah School District are also encouraging parents to review these safety tips with their children:

• Never talk to a stranger.

• Never let a stranger get too close, whether the stranger is in a car or walking.

• Never tell a stranger any personal information, such as your name, age or address.

• Travel in groups, if possible.

• Stick to safe, well-lit paths when walking.

• Do not obstruct your hearing with iPods or portable music players when walking or waiting outside.

• If a stranger tries to grab you, yell as loudly as you can and run away.

• Always alert an adult immediately if you are approached by a suspicious person.

SEATTLE — Police said a 72-year-old registered sex offender was arrested Monday for allegedly attempting to lure two 12-year-old girls into his parked van in the Central District.

At about 5:25 p.m. officers responded to the area of 23rd Avenue and East Yesler Way for the report of a man trying to lure a 12-year-old girl into his van, a police statement said.

child-sexPreliminary investigation indicates that the suspect attempted to lure two 12-year-old girls into his van while they walked down the sidewalk in the 2400 block of East Yesler Way.

Officers contacted the suspect, who was sitting in a light-colored minivan located in the 2400 block of East Yesler Way. A computer check showed that the suspect was a registered sex offender and he was taken into custody.

Police said the suspect will be booked into the King County Jail for investigation of child luring.

There was never any physical contact between the suspect and the two 12-year-old female victims, police said.


Local News

Student reports attempted luring in Bellevue

BELLEVUE — A student reported an attempted luring in Bellevue Monday morning, saying a stranger approached and tried to get students in his car.

Parents are in shock that this could happen in what they thought was a safe neighborhood.

luringKareth Hyatt made a point of picking up her son at the bus stop, after she got the email about an attempted luring at NE 10th Street and 92nd Ave NE.

“When I saw that it was my kid’s stop, I thought I’m going to get there early,” she says. “I was panicked.”

A student at Chinook Middle School was waiting for the bus this morning, when, he said, a man in a gray car approached and asked if they wanted a ride. The student ran away and wasn’t hurt, but the school district alerted all parents in the area.

“This is a safe neighborhood, you don’t even think that’s going to happen,” says Hyatt. “I mean, you have it in the back of your mind when you become a mother, the whole protector thing. It really puts you on edge.”

Alexandra Joseph says what happened is a reminder that crime can happen anywhere.

“I come from England, and I’ve been to a lot of big cities,” she says. “You just never let your guard down, never be complacent. No matter how safe the area is, there’s always one bad apple around.”

Even though her son is only five, she’s already started teaching him about strangers and what to do if someone approaches him.

Hyatt is also having those conversations with her children. She says now that they’re older, she is honest about the dangers that are out there.

“If they don’t know, if you try to pad it, they’re not going to see the seriousness of it. I sort of want them to be afraid.”

She wants them to keep their eyes open on their way to and from school.  She says she’s going to be keeping a closer watch too.

“I’ll be here tomorrow very early. And I will be looking for the car,” she says.

The student told police the man was in a four-door gray sedan, with one red tire rim on the rear driver’s side tire.

If you have seen that car or have any other information that could help in this investigation, you’re asked to call Bellevue police.

Local News

Girl reports luring attempt in Olympia

OLYMPIA — Parents say they have had enough.

“So if you’re out there predator you better not be,” parent Chadid Conley said.

jefferson“It’s getting crazier and crazier, you know what I mean and I mean all the other news that you hear… this is the worst,” uncle Caliph Williams said.

Police say it happened early last Friday morning while the girl was walking to Jefferson Middle school on Olympia’s west side.

The man allegedly pulled up to the girl in his car and asked if she wanted a ride to school. She said no and the man drove away.

Police are concerned enough to alert parents and the school notified them as well.

Everyone has heard about it happening to children all over Western Washington, now, it’s come to their neighborhood and they don’t like it one bit.

“I’ve been listening to the news and all these lurings and flashings and stuff like that and it’s just really unnecessary. People are sick to do something like that to kids,” Williams said.

So far police here have little to go on and they’re offering parents the usual advice: Don’t let kids walk alone and remind them not to talk to strangers.

Caliph Williams says parents should also tell their children what he tells his niece.

“The first thing I tell her to do is scream as loud as possible.  The first thing you want to do is scream as crazy and loud as possible so anybody can hear it,” Williams said.

“And if anyone else needs a ride or walk in our direction we’ll be happy to help but this can’t go on. I mean come on these children,” Conley said.

Anyone with information about this incident should call 911.

SEATTLE — The Lacey Police Department said Thursday that an 11-year-old girl’s report that a man attempted to lure her Monday was inaccurate.

laceyPolice had said that at 3:55 p.m. Monday, the girl, who was walking near 31st Avenue NE and Fairhill Drive NE, was approached by a man in a white Ford Ranger. The girl said the man asked her to help him find his dog. When she refused to assist him, she told police the man got out of his truck and attempted to grab her. The girl then ran home and told her parents what happened.

In a statement Thursday, the police department said, “Lacey detectives have concluded an investigation and have determined that the information  provided in the original report was not consistent with statements provided to investigators.  The juvenile has cooperated with detectives in resolving the inconsistencies and has admitted that the incident did not occur as reported.


SEATTLE — Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies arrested an 18-year-old Curtis High School student Wednesday for reportedly attempting to lure a 13-year-old boy, detective Ed Troyer said. Police said the 18-year-old offered the younger boy money to go with him; the incident happened Monday afternoon.

Police said that the 18-year-old was allegedly trying to get the boy to go into the woods with him and believe he was intending to assault the younger boy. The older teen tried to grab the young boy, but he was able to flee. He then went home and told his mother about the incident.

The 18-year-old was identified after the 13-year-old’s mother took a photo of the suspect and showed it to a school resource officer.


The 18-year-old will be in court Wednesday afternoon. An investigation into the incident is under way.

curtis high school

SEATTLE — Parents who are afraid a sexual predator is on the loose in their neighborhood had many of them asking questions Tuesday night. In West Seattle alone, there have been seven recent cases in which a predator has reportedly targeted young children, and most of the alleged incidents took place near schools.

HopeLutheranHope Lutheran School in West Seattle held a child safety meeting for parents who wanted to learn how to talk their kids, and a large number of parents showed up to find out how to keep kids safe from predators. But some parents admitted such conversations are tricky.

“I have a 2- and 4-year-old — I honestly don’t know how to talk to them about safety or when I should start talking to them about safety without freaking them out,” Bill Higbee said.

Parent Malik Davis said it’s been awkward trying to explain to his child the seven alleged cases in which a man either exposed himself or tried to lure kids.

“You are scared — you don’t know the words (to use). You don’t want to frighten a 6-year-old who doesn’t know how to receive it and a 42-year-old who doesn’t know how to deliver it,” Davis said.

“This is the most proactive thing they could be doing — the schools are talking, they are holding meetings and they are giving people tools,” Savvy Parents Safe Kids Founder Kim Estes said.

Estes said the safety talk should happen when kids are as young as 2 years old.

“It doesn’t have to be scary. (But saying) ‘bathing suit area is private’ is a very basic concept for kids. They understand and you build on that and get more sophisticated as they get older,” Estes said.

She said predators are looking for naive children so parents are encouraged to share age-appropriate information.

“Consistency is the biggest part of it,” Estes said.

Hope Lutheran was one of several West Seattle schools said to have been targeted by the alleged predator, or predators, since early September. In one reported incident, a man allegedly tried to lure a girl into his car outside Hope Lutheran.

“We are doing everything that we feel that we can do as a school to make sure our parents feel secure and our kids feel secure,” Hope Lutheran Administrator Sally Heit said.

In late October a man was arrested outside Chief Sealth High, accused of touching himself inappropriately. Police have not linked that man to any of the other cases and as of Tuesday night no charges have been filed.

“It certainly is scary and I hope it stops,” Higbee said.

Even if the West Seattle predator is caught, parents believe there are many more out there.

“It shouldn’t have to take this to have the conversation,” Davis said.

townsendPORT TOWNSEND — Police on Thursday released a sketch of a suspect reported to have approached an 11-year-ld boy on Oct. 2 near Blue Heron Middle School in a child luring attempt.

The boy reported he was approached about 8 a.m. on a trail in the area of Haines and 33nd streets and offered candy by an older man. King County Sheriff’s Office detective Robin Fry created the sketch after an interview with the boy.

The boy described scruffy white facial hair and a gauged plug-style earring in the man’s right ear. The man was missing his front teeth. He wore a blue baseball cap with a green Oakland Athletics logo, a dirty white T-shirt and dirty blue jeans. The man was driving a white full-size van that had no windows, according to the boy.

A second attempting luring incident was reported to have occurred a week later, at 8 a.m. on Oct. 9. In that incident, an 11-year-old girl was riding her bicycle on San Juan Avenue about six blocks south of the school, 3939 San Juan Avenue. She described a white van stopping, pulling into the bicycle lane blocking her path. The driver rolled down the passenger-side window and told the girl her mother instructed him to give her a ride to school. When the girl realized the man didn’t know her mother’s name, she rode away.

The girl reported the white van had three windows down the side and two on the back doors. The windows were described as being hard to look through, possibly because obstructions inside. The man appeared to be in his 50s, according to the girl. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt low over his face. He had no visible facial hair, but had a pierced nose.

Despite some discrepancies in the descriptions, the incidents are currently being investigated as if they’re related.

No additional reports of child luring attempts have been made since the Oct. 9 incident, police said.

Investigators are asking members the public to examine the police sketch closely. If the man looks familiar, reports can be made by calling Port Townsend police detective McBride at (360) 390-8938.

If a suspicious person or van is spotted in the area of children, the situation should be immediately reported by calling 911, police said.