A few days ago my ten year daughter was almost kidnapped by a sick individual preying on young children. We were blessed in that two of our neighbors came to her rescue, and another neighbor had apparently also come out of her door and was running to help as well.
In the last few days my family and myself have gone through some very complex emotions. We experienced fear and worry while waiting for him to be caught. We experienced a high when we found out he was caught. Then we were brought down into the mud when we found out that the current laws could not protect my daughter or keep this individual in prison. Then, to top it all off, we got to experience a terrible awakening of our society when we learned that what is happening to us has happened to hundreds of others because our societies laws do not protect “almost” victims.
Before I go on, I realize some of you are learning about this incident for the first time. I did not post about this on my blog because my blog has always been my place for talking about gardening, food processing, canning and my childhood foster care experiences. I decided to change that today due to this issue being one that apparently affects people all over the country. For that reason I am going to paste my Facebook Posts from the incidents below to catch some of you up on what happened.
August 4th 7:16PM
A stranger tried to pick my kid up this evening. She is still with us because our neighbors Stephanie had a gut feeling and intervened. The police are looking for the guy. Male, dark skin, dark hair with pink on top driving a white Equinox
Please contact the police “Update as of noon 8/5. Detective Pakkala is now in charge of the case. If you have any information, or live on Wilson near Velp and have cameras facing the street, please contact him using the non emergency police number 920- 391-7450”
This is what I was told happened. I was inside with the boys. Arabelle was practicing walking in high heels up and down our block up to Velp and back. Some guy pulled over, said he knew her and asked her to come over to the car. She said no and he kept telling her to come over and that he knew her mom.Stephanie and Dave saw it and drove up and he drove away. Then when they were driving they saw him circle back towards her so they circled back and he was back by her telling her to come to the car. They asked if she was okay, she said no, and they got her in the car and brought her home.
I want to thank everyone for their kind words. This summer I was working on not being a helicopter parent and, since she just turned 10, I let her walk in her first pair of heels up the block to the gas station on her own for the first time. (I knew who was working).
I grew up in the out until the streetlights come on generation, but as a social worker I know the kinds of people out there so I prepared her for it. We literally just had the stranger danger talk for Scouts a week ago, which helped. It sucks trying to not shelter kids and allow them freedom to play while also trying to keep them safe. I’m back to Helicopter parenting again. It sucks, I was hoping she could have some freedom, but this is the very thing I was afraid of. They haven’t caught him yet but I’m hoping they will.
The police are reviewing neighborhood video cameras. Keeping my fingers crossed that the license plate was caught on camera.
August 6th. 12:45 PM
I want to Vomit.
They caught the guy today.
Detective called. The perv did pull over with the intent of picking her up, but he claims he thought she was 20 and a prostitute. He said her shorts and having a purse and heels are what made him think that. See image to see what she was wearing that day, minus the heels.
Since she never ended up in his car and he didn’t say to her that he was going to do something sexual with her no charges can be filed. He was on probation, however, so this has been sent over to his probation officer. It sucks what people can get away with. Especially since his telling her that he knew her mom means he damn well knew she was a kid. I hate the legal system. At least they caught him.
Apparently his girlfriend has family near us and that’s why he was over here and will be in this area again.
One of the worst parts for me, after the phone call with the detective, was wondering who this guy was. Why my daughter. Was he stalking her before this or was this random? Did he have a criminal history I should be concerned about? Some of my friends, without my asking them to, went to work looking up information for me. I guess teaching students who will be future Police Officers has some unknown perks. I was surprised by and grateful to all who came out of the woodwork to offer support.
After learning that this child predator would be able to get away with what he did my husband and I had to figure out how to tell my 10 year old daughter that this man would be allowed in our neighborhood again in order to prepare her for the future. I also had to figure out how to explain to her why the police were unable to protect her.
I ended up having a sit down with my daughter in which I decided to give her a partial truth. I did not want her, at 10 years old, to start questioning the way she was dressing and blame herself for what happened. In no world should a young girl ever be made to feel the way I did after I was sexually assaulted, at age 14, by my foster brother. At that time I was told that my shorts made men think I would want to do things with them. I don’t want those same feelings of guilt and self blame running through her head.
I told Arabelle that because she didn’t get in the mans car no crime had actually occurred and that that is why he could not be punished for what he did. I also told her, that he told the police that she looked like she was 20 years old and that because of that the police couldn’t prove he was trying to hurt a minor.
That night, and the nights that have followed, Arabelle has been watching the street and she jumps every time she sees a white SUV drive by. When we get into our car to go to the store, or to visit relatives, she looks in the back seat to make sure he isn’t hiding there. I continue to tell her that he is in jail and when he gets out he is too smart to come after her again, but she wont internalize this. In her 10 year old brain he is now the bogyman and he will come back for her.
My youngest daughter seems to be dealing with everything really well, unless you actually know her. On Friday night she started crying for no reason and was unable to figure out why she was sad. None of us were able to console her. I ended up calling one of my favorite moms, who is the 4H leader for our club. She read a kid level book on how to deal with sadness to my daughters over the phone. Then, even though it was 10:30PM and she has 4 kids of her own to care for she came over with some books about emotions read some to the girls and then held Genevieve while she fell asleep in her arms.
In my 10 years of parenting I have always been enough for my kids. In this situation, the stress has been enough that it took another person being in my house to help me help my own kids. While it made me feel useless as a mom, I have to say Sarah was the best help to my kids that night and I am forever grateful. Looking back, while I thought I was keeping my cool around my kids, I really wasn’t. Anger and sadness and hopelessness were seething out of me and my kids noticed it. This situation made me a source of stress in my own kids life and it feels shameful to admit that about myself that night.
Today, Sunday, I spent the entire day ill with a migraine. I am 100% positive this migraine was stress induced. It only started to feel better once all the thoughts in my head stopped swirling and I finally came up with a step by step plan for how I am going to move forward as a mother, wife and person after what has happened.
A part of me feels guilty for how upset I have been over the last few days. Nothing bad actually happened to my daughter. A man tried to harm her, but he didn’t.
A part of me feels grateful for everything that happened that saved my daughter that day. Neighbors who came to her rescue, my daughter had a refresher course on what to do if someone tried to get you in their car just the week before as part of her Scouts BSA program. The police were able to catch him. Our neighborhood Association is calling an urgent meeting to form a neighborhood watch to help keep our neighborhood safe. Our City Alderman stopped over today and will work with me on finding a way to change the state statute that allows this guy to walk.
A large part of me feels angry due to my new knowledge of several families who have gone through the same situation and were unable to get help due to this state statute.
A very large chunk of me feels something Akin to survivors guilt. Nothing happened to our daughter while hundreds of children go missing every year and families are left with no knowledge of what happened to their children. How can I be upset when my story has a happy ending?
So, this is where I am at mentally 4 days after my daughter was almost kidnapped. I am feeling guilt, anger, sadness and motivation to get out and change the very laws that have allowed this man and others like him to walk away after attempting to harm children. I am also motivated to get a neighborhood watch going in my own community to help keep all of the children and neighbors within my community safe.
My husband….. My husband is handling this very differently. Probably in the same way most law abiding fathers would handle this situation. He is looking into self defense lessons for our kids, firearm safety courses for them and also contemplating moving us to a smaller community where it is easier for us to keep an eye on the children and allow them their freedom.
I wish I had some nice fun happy way of wrapping up this post. I wish I could tell you everything is fine. Were all happy and healthy and moving forward.
Some day I hope I will be able to say that about this incident. For now all I can say is my daughters, my husband and myself are taking each day one step at a time and we will get though it. Life will move on, but it wont move on the same for us. I can not unlearn what I have about the ways our laws allow people the get away with “almost” kidnapping. I will find a way to change these laws.
As the weeks go on, and I beginning actively working to change the state statute that allowed this man to walk I will update everyone with what is happening on our end. Hopefully this incident sparked the beginning of a movement to protect future victims.