Columbia abduction attempt turns out to be hoax - Republic-Times | News

Columbia abduction attempt turns out to be hoax

By on August 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

The entire Columbia community was put on high alert this weekend following the report of an attempted abduction Friday night.

As it turns out, the report was false, Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards said Monday.

“We are extremely happy to learn that this incident did not occur in our community,” Edwards said. “We are very disappointed that anyone would fabricate an incident of this magnitude.”

To top it off, a Sunday night kidnapping report just to the north of Columbia in East Carondelet was also deemed false by police on Monday.

Shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, the Columbia Police Department received a complaint from an 11-year-old boy and his older sister that a man attempted to abduct the boy from the area of West Locust and North Main Street. Police received assistance from an Illinois State Police sketch artist, and the boy provided a detailed description of the suspect to this artist.

The sketch of a white male suspect and a vehicle description — a dark red or maroon minivan — were provided to surrounding police departments and the media.

A number of leads were generated and followed up on by police, but none of them identified a suspect, Chief Edwards said.

The chief went on to add his department made this investigation its highest priority.

“We have been working around the clock since Friday night to identify the suspect,” he stated in a Monday news release.

The city held its annual Columbia Daze summer picnic Friday and Saturday at Metter Park — just blocks from where the incident was alleged to have taken place.

CPD detectives re-interviewed the older sister on Sunday. It was at this time, Edwards said, the older sister admitted to not being with her brother at the time of the alleged abduction attempt.

Detectives then re-interviewed the boy on Monday. After this interview, it was determined the attempted abduction never occurred, Edwards said.

Juvenile charges will be forwarded to the Monroe County State’s Attorney for review, Edwards said.

Edwards added that his department will seek restitution for all the time officers dedicated to the case.

On Monday morning, East Carondelet Mayor Herb Simmons told the Republic-Times that a separate alleged abduction attempt involving an 11-year-old girl Sunday night near a park in his village was also false.

“We have reason to believe that adults prompted the girl to do it,” Simmons said.

Tony Johnson, 23, and Marlona Pollard, 19, were both charged in St. Clair County court with felony disorderly conduct and filing a false police report in that incident.

Both of these false reports come on the heels of three separate reports of a suspicious man driving a white Chevy Silverado pickup and approaching children in various parts of Monroe County over the past month, including Waterloo and Hecker.

Police believe those reports  to be valid, based on the similar description in all three cases of a man in his 30’s or 40’s with a “scruffy” appearance and driving the same type of vehicle.

Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.