Exclusive: Mother chases down child-luring suspect

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CENTRALIA — Scary moments for a Centralia family after a man tried to lure their 9-year-old daughter into his car.


The young girl is safe and sound and now cops say they have the man responsible in custody.

Cops say it all happened yesterday, in broad daylight, on South Rock Street where there are tons of kids out playing all the time.

The girl’s mother actually tracked down 48-year-old Nicholas Lange leading to his arrest just a short distance away.

“Obviously it wasn’t the first time, he’d done it before,” said the child’s mother, Maria Leal. “He went around the block after and came back a second time.”

Leal wasn’t about to let the man who tried luring her daughter from their Centralia yard get away with it.

“I’m always jumping down my kids’ head, don’t talk to anybody,” added Leal. “If anybody approaches you, you get to an adult right away. They were tired of hearing mom, but it paid off.”

Late Monday afternoon, cops say Lange approached the young girl.

“He told our officers that he saw the girl in the yard playing with her dog, saying he also had a dog,” said Centralia Police Officer Patty Finch. “He was contacting her because he was looking for a girlfriend for his dog. After the girl was asked to go with him, the girl ran inside and told her grandparents and he left that area at that time. Her grandparents came outside with her a few minutes later and at that time he returned and apologized to them and left on foot again.”

But when Leal got home, cops say she hunted Lange down and stayed on his tail while she called 911.

“Basically what I wanted to do was get a good description of him and just make sure somebody got to him,” explained Leal.

“I think it’s great,” said Finch. “Especially as a mother in this case, she probably followed her instinct and probably done everything she could have done to make sure this couldn’t happen to anyone else.“

Cops caught up with Lange a few blocks away and arrested him on suspicion of child luring.

“She did everything perfect. She didn’t contact him, she didn’t get out of her vehicle, she didn’t say anything to him and she didn’t approach him,” said Finch.

Now Leal is keeping her daughter and her other two kids close to hand while they come to grips with what could have happened.

Centralia police say they have investigated a number of unsolved child luring cases in area, but they don’t yet know if any of those are connected to Lange.

Lange was charged Tuesday at the Lewis County Courthouse in Chehalis, his next court appearance is Wednesday.

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