UPDATE: Kenova Police Say Attempted Abduction of Teen False

By: Rebekah Pewitt, WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Rebekah Pewitt, WSAZ News Staff Email
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Protecting Your Children from Abductions

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More than 60 students walk home from Highlwan Elementary School in Huntington each and everyday.

Principal Robin Harmon has a system of lists, checks and balances to make sure that teachers know where students are going as soon as they leave care of the school, but she has a few rules that she stresses once the students are out of her staff's view.

"Not to be too friendly to people they don't know, the bottom line they have to look out for themselves," Harmon explained.

Harmon says that the buddy system is the best. She prefers knowing students are walking together.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 38 percent of abductions happen when a child is walking home from school alone. Sixty-eight percent of the abductions involve the use of a vehicle -- 72 percent are girls and 43 percent are between the ages of 10 to 14.

That is why it is not a bad idea to tell your children to practice screaming. It also helps to build their confidence. A quieter form of protection is a cell phone because parents can track their students and even call to check in.

But don't let a cell phone lull you into a false sense of security. Children who are paying attention to texts or playing a game while working are not paying attention to their surroundings.

UPDATE 8/26/13 @ 6 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kenova Police say the reported attempted abduction of a 17-year-old girl last week was not an abduction attempt.

Police Chief Ray Mossman says that about noon Monday a man living in Kenova came forward and said he was the person driving the white Kia jeep type vehicle reported in the alleged incident.

The man told police he was looking for an address saw the teen and wanted to ask for her help.

Chief Mossman said when the man saw news reports of the attempted abduction, and that he and his vehicle were the subject of interest, he contacted Kenova Police.

Mossman said the “words used by the man, as indicated by the reported victim at the time of the incident, is consistent with the individual's account.”

The Chief went on to say it was “poor judgment on the individual's part to stop a child and ask for directions. Adults should be advised that if they must stop and get directions they should only have contact with other adults or law enforcement.”

"We now have no reason to believe this incident is an attempted kidnapping. We are appreciative that the individual came forth and gave an explanation for the incident," said Mossman. "We are appreciative that the individual came forth and gave an explanation for the incident.”

Kenova Police are still investigating the reported attempted abduction of a 10-year-old on August 17. That alleged incident involved an older gray and black Ford panel van with and a loud exhaust.

Mossman says investigators still need to identify the man with chest length beard and a "barbed wire" tattoo around one of his wrists.

Anyone with information should call the Kenova Department of Public Safety at (304) 453-1281.



UPDATE 8/23/13 @ 6 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. -- Kenova Police officers are investigating two abduction attempts that happened in one week.

Police Chief Ray Mossman say they no longer have a vehicle or person of interest in the first attempt, nor do they have any leads in the second.

A lot can happen while officers are on patrol, but Kenova Police are using extra patrols to search for the people behind two abduction attempts.

"If we can get those people identified, especially the one with the van, we feel like that was a very serious one," Mossman said.

The second attempt happened Thursday afternoon. Herschel Yates was at his home along Sycamore Street when his niece ran up to him, saying that a man tried to take her.

"She's afraid because it could happen again. You never know," Yates said.

With that second attempt, officers are now searching for three people.

They say they are focusing on the areas where both attempts took place on Poplar and Sycamore streets, as well as closely watching school grounds.

"All of the agencies are aware, especially of the one last week, and we put flyers out on intelligence bulletins and businesses last week," Chief Mossman said.



UPDATE 8/22/13 @ 11 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police in Kenova are investigating another report of an attempted abduction.

In this case the alleged victim is a 17-year-old girl, and Police Chief Ray Mossman says the alleged incident is in no way related to the reported attempted abduction of a 10-year-old boy over the weekend.

Chief Mossman says the teen told officers a man driving a white, Kia type jeep type vehicle with a gold stripe along the bottom stopped in the 700 block of 18th Street about noon on Thursday and the driver said “Hey, come here, get down here now.”

Mossman says the girl told the man, "No”, but the man told her one more time to get in.

The teen said she then ran to her uncle’s residence in the 1900 Block of Sycamore Street. She said the driver then went down Sycamore St, made a U-Turn and came back up the street toward her. At that point, she said the man started to exit the vehicle, so she ran home.

Mossman says the girl was visibly upset when she was interviewed by police. She said the driver was Hispanic with a light mustache.

The Chief also says the incident was verified by a person who was driving by and knows the alleged victim. The witness said the vehicle looked like a white “Hummer.”

Chief Ray Mossman says in the incident with the 10-year-old boy, the vehicle of interest is a black and gray 1986 Ford Cargo Van and that the owner of the vehicle has been cooperative and drove the vehicle to the department on two occasions.

The boy told police that the attempted abduction happened in 1600 block of Poplar Street on Saturday about 1 p.m.

The investigation into the report continues.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/21/13 @ 6:40 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kenova Police say they have a van of interest and a person of interest who they are questioning in relation to the recent abduction attempt.

With the investigation still ongoing, teachers and staff at local school are taking extra steps to keep kids safe.

It was math time in Mrs. Lesley Shumaker's third-grade class on Tuesday, but with the scare of an attempted child abduction in the area, she has been teaching a little more than math facts.

"As a teacher, I treat the kids in my classroom just like my own, so I talked to my boys and girls about it," Shumaker said.

Kenova Police say a 10-year-old boy told them two men in a black and gray van asked to give him a ride, but when he said no they started yelling at him and that's when he ran away.

For Shumaker, the incident is a little too close for comfort since it happened just a couple blocks away from her home.

"My husband and I were a little shocked because it did happen close to our home, and a little nervous because our kids enjoy playing outside," Shumaker said.

Kenova Police Chief Ray Mossman said they have a van of interest and have questioned the driver of that van.

"He's even driven his vehicle back over here to us, so it's possible that it's not the vehicle, but things indicate that it could be," Mossman said.

Officers are still on the lookout for a second person.

So, in the meantime, Kenova Elementary school officials are taking extra precautions, like not allowing kids to walk home.

"I'm a parent, as well. We've all been on edge about it and concerned about it, even just letting them be on the playground. Even though it's fenced in, it is concerning," Kenova Elementary Principal Deidre Farley said.

And even with flyers of the van hanging around town, they hope to keep these kids in the right hands.



UPDATE 8/21/13 @ 8 a.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The Kenova Police Chief says he is “fairly certain” the vehicle of interest in the possible attempted abduction of a 10-year-old boy has been identified.

The boy told police that the attempted abduction happened in 1600 block of Poplar Street on Saturday about 1 p.m.

Chief Ray Mossman says the vehicle of interest is a black and gray 1986 Ford Cargo Van and that the owner of the vehicle has been cooperative and drove the vehicle to the department on two occasions.

Chief Mossman is not releasing the person’s name at this time. The Chief also says there is a possibility that this vehicle is not the suspect vehicle. He also says investigators continue to pursue lead phoned into the department.

The boy told police the driver was about 50 to 60 years old. He has a flat top hair cut, but has a gray beard that comes to the top of his stomach.

The boy also said there was a passenger in the van. He said that man had chest length beard that is salt and pepper in color and he had a "Barbed Wire" tattoo on one wrist.

The 10-year-old also told police he smelled what he thought was alcohol from inside the van.

Kenova Police say they have two other incidents of attempted abductions on file with similar vehicle and occupant descriptions. Both those incidents were reported in 2012.

Mossman says he encourages parents to remind their children to be observant and not approach strangers. He also says people should continue to notify the department of any suspicious vehicles with occupants that match the description given by the boy.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Kenova DPS (304) 453-1281.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/19/13 @ 5:20 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Kenova Police say they have two persons of interest and a vehicle of interest in an attempted kidnapping.

Chief Ray Mossman said they have made contact with one of the two men they believe to have been involved in the kidnapping attempt that happened Saturday on Poplar Street.

They are still trying to get in contact with the other man. Mossman tells WSAZ.com they have also gotten more information that will help them narrow down the description.

Mossman said they are investigating into a vehicle that may have been involved, but they are not 100 percent sure it’s the van described in Saturday’s kidnapping attempt.

Earlier, the Kenova Department of Public Safety said it was looking for a 1985 Ford Cargo Van that is spray painted black and also with a flat gray primer. The exterior paint would be considered a rough condition. The original paint is reported to be bleeding through the spray paint, but at this time, they have not been able to determine what color it is.

The van may not have windows in the cargo area. The driver and passenger windows are tinted. The vehicle has a loud exhaust system. There is a dent on the driver's side front quarter-panel and a dent on the passenger side rear quarter panel in front of the wheel. The hood has some white showing through the paint.

Police say the driver is about 50 to 60 years old. He has a flat top hair cut, but has a gray beard that comes to the top of his stomach.

The passenger in the van was also a male. He also has a chest length beard that is salt and pepper in color. One of his wrists had a "Barbed Wire" tattoo.

The 10-year-old victim in Saturday's attempted abduction told police he smelled what he thought was an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the van.

Kenova Police has two other incidents on file with a similar vehicle and occupant description.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Kenova DPS (304) 453-1281. Chief Ray Mossman and Officer Adam Lewis are conducting the investigation.



UPDATE 8/18/13 @ 4 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police are releasing more information about a suspicious van and two men involved in several attempted kidnappings.

Kenova Police say the driver is about 50 - 60 years old. He has a flat top hair cut, but has a gray beard that comes to the top of his stomach.

The passenger in the van was also a white male. He also has a chest length beard that is salt and pepper in color. One of his wrists had a "Barbed Wire" tattoo.

The 10-year-old victim in Saturday's attempted abduction told police he smelled what he thought was an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the van.

The Kenova Department of Public Safety is looking for a 1985 Ford Cargo Van that is spray painted black and also with a flat gray primer. The exterior paint would be considered a rough condition. The original paint, unknown color, is reported to be bleeding through the spray paint.

The van may not have windows in the cargo area. The Driver's and Passenger windows are tinted. The vehicle has a loud exhaust system. There is a dent on the driver's side front quarter-panel and a dent on the passenger side rear quarter panel in front of the wheel. The hood has some white showing through the paint.

Kenova Police has two other incidents on file with a similar vehicle and occupant description.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Kenova DPS (304) 453-1281. Chief Ray Mossman and Officer Adam Lewis are conducting the investigation.



ORIGINAL STORY
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kenova police were called to Poplar Street Saturday afternoon for an attempted kidnapping.

Sheena Drown-Walters says her ten-year-old son ran home frantically -- claiming two men in a charcoal-colored van stopped him as he was riding his bike to meet up with some friends.

The boy says one of the men asked him if he needed a ride, and when he said "no," he says the man started cussing at him -- demanding him to get inside the van.

The boy was able to run away and get help.

"We've always told him if somebody ever does try to pick them up, he is to run and holler for help," Drown-Walters said. "He came straight home. He was a nervous wreck. He was scared to death."

Police searched the area, but say they never found the van matching their description.


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