DEVELOPING STORY: As Many as 10 Abduction Attempts Being Investigated

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 4/6/12 @ 11:55 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County Sheriff's deputies say they're now looking into roughly 10 child abduction attempts in the area.

The latest was reported in the Cedar Grove area a couple of days ago.
Deputies say the suspect was driving a black full-size Chevy truck when he approached a young boy and girl, but they both were able to get away.

In Handley, W.Va., Phillip McBrayer said his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old nephew came home after being chased by a man on Route 61. That's one of many attempts WSAZ.com has seen in Kanawha and Wayne counties in the past few weeks.

Some of those involve a suspect driving a white box-style van.
Deputies say that same suspect is believed to be involved in many of the cases.

"When the urge comes around, it's compulsive, and causes them to act on it and find a victim," said Lt. Sean Crosier with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office. "Or the urge passes."

Investigators said while they have received a lot of calls, they do want to hear about each and every suspicious event. That means if something just doesn't feel right to you, or your child feels uncomfortable in the presence of a stranger, police want to know about it.



UPDATE 3/30/12 @ 7:25 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- With a potential predator on the loose, dozens upon dozens of tipsters are calling in, according to Kanawha County Sheriffs deputies.

Investigators are stepping up the search to find a man in his 50s or 60s with balding grey hair, one eye that's only partially open and a "pot belly". They say he's driving a white cargo style van looking for young victims.

"There's a huge outpouring of calls that we've received involving white vans," Lt. Sean Crosier said. "This particular offender, you know he's experiencing some very strong urges to have an encounter with a teenage girl."

In fact, WSAZ.com spotted nearly three white mini or cargo style vans practically every minute. In just 12 seconds, we found five vans passing in and out of the Capital City.

Investigators say there's no distance these types of predators will not travel, which is why they say we've seen abductions in other counties.

"They'll go to the ends of the Earth to find that victim," Crosier said. "I think one of the reasons we're seeing more incidents here in Kanawha County is because we have a higher population of children and so a lot more targets are out there."

Now all eyes are scanning the streets, hoping to help crack this widespread case. Deputies say they've increased patrols throughout the county.

Police say safety at the bus stop and in your front yard is paramount. They fear this man will not stop until he is caught.

"We want the parents to step up -- take care of their children," Crosier said. "And encourage them, if they can't be with that child, to walk in numbers."

The man featured in the bus surveillance video who was considered a suspect in the possible abduction has been cleared of any suspicion.

South Charleston detectives tell WSAZ.com that the man in the video is not a suspect and has a slight mental condition. Police say he was simply trying to cross the street so he wouldn't get hit by the bus.

Detectives say the biggest thing to look for is suspicious activity. If you see something out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to call 911.



UPDATE 3/30/12 @ 11:45 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man featured in the bus surveillance video that was considered a suspect in a possible abduction has been cleared of any suspicion.

South Charleston Detectives tell WSAZ.com that the man in the video is not a suspect, in any way, in connection with the recent attempted abductions.

According to detectives, the man goes to a barber shop in that area and the crosswalk where the bus stopped is the only place in which he can cross the street.

WSAZ.com is also told that the man has a slight mental condition, and that may be why he walked across the street the way he did.

Detectives feel that the streets of South Charleston are still very safe.

Investigators believe two men are involved. One man has been described as 50 to 60-years-old, balding with grey hair and possibly has a pot belly. The man may also have a bad eye that is unable to open. Detectives are still searching for the vehicle that is described as a white van or box style vehicle.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more information.



UPDATE 3/29/12 @ 11:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Deputies are investigating a possible break in a series of attempted abduction cases in our area.

Investigators believe a school bus surveillance camera may have caught video of the attempted abduction on Jefferson Road in South Charleston.

This latest attempt would make the fourth in a little more than a week.

"The sad thing about this is it'll continue to happen repetitively until we catch this person," says Kanawha County Lt. Sean Crosier.

The first two attempted abductions were reported in Wayne and Mingo counties. The latest incidents happened in Kanawha County in the past few days.

All of the cases have similarities, including that the man is driving a white van.

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department released the video on Thursday afternoon asking for the public's help to identify the men in the van.

Deputies are working to track down the white van or possibly box style vehicle.

Deputies say the video shows the girl getting off the school bus and an older man running after and possibly trying to abduct her as she crossed Jefferson Road. The bus driver noticed something happening and began yelling at the man in the video.

The latest incident happened Tuesday afternoon between the West Virginia State Police headquarters and the South Charleston Recreation Center.

"What scares me is it's right by the state police barracks. It's a major intersection, huge traffic. To do something like this in broad daylight in such a huge, populated area, it's scary," says Gary Nutter, the victim's father.

Investigators believe two men are involved. One man has been described as 50 to 60-years-old, balding with grey hair and possibly has a pot belly. The man may also have a bad eye that is unable to open.

Police don't have a good description of the second person involved.

They are still looking for a white van or box style vehicle.

Anyone with information is asked to call either the South Charleston Police Department at 304-744-4666 and speak with Detective Gordon or the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office at 304-357-0169 and speak with Detective S.D. Snuffer.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more information.



UPDATE 3/28/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Three teenagers from three different areas have very similar stories about a man trying to kidnap them.

The first happened early last week at a school in Wayne County, W.Va. A 13-year-old claims a man started chasing her.

Friday morning, Williamson Police in Mingo County say a 17-year-old was walking to the bus stop when a man grabbed her throat, held a gun to her head and tried to pull her down an alley.

Tuesday morning, a St. Albans High School student in Kanawha County was waiting for the bus when she says a man jumped out of a van and tried to grab her.

“There's somebody out there doing something that we gotta worry about,” St. Albans High School Principal Jeffrey Kelley said.

“He gets out and goes to grab my arm,” Caitlin Lett, a student, said about the man who tried to abduct her.

Lett says she lucked out when a truck pulled up and scared the man off.

Now, the school is sending out words of warning.

“They (students) want to know the truth and they want you to tell them what they need to know,” Kelley said.

Kelley told his students about the incident over the intercom and made sure parents got the memo, too, by using the school's alert system.

“I’m not going anywhere alone, keeping the doors locked and making sure someone's with me and someone knows where I am all the time,” Molly Caldwell, a student, said.

“It's terrifying. It really becomes a situation where you don't have much power,” Melissa Agee, a teacher and parent, said.

Agee knows firsthand what an attempted abduction feels like. She went through the same thing a few years ago.

“This is somebody with an agenda to fulfill, and he's going to keep going until he gets what he's looking for. And it just makes you want to remind kids to be careful,” Agee said.

Kelley is telling students not to travel alone and always keep an eye out for suspicious behavior.

If they see something suspicious, he says to get away and call 911.

His advice to parents is to stay in communication with their kids and know where they are at all times.



UPDATE 3/28/12 @ 12:55 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A search is underway for at least one child abductor in the region.

Three teenagers, all miles apart, have very similar stories about a man trying to abduct them.

The first happened last Tuesday (March 20) at a school in Kenova. That's in Wayne County. A 13-year-old claims a man started chasing her. She was able to get away and call 911.

Then, March 23 Williamson Police in Mingo County say a 17-year-old was walking to the bus stop when a man grabbed her throat, held a gun to her head and tried to pull her down an alley. She told police he ran away when a car drove by.

Then Tuesday morning (March 27), a St. Albans High School student in Kanawha County was waiting for the bus when she says a man jumped out of a van and tried to grab her. She told deputies he ran away when a truck pulled up.

Investigators say there are similarities in all three cases.

The victims in Wayne County and Kanawha County both say a white van was involved.

All three victims are teenagers who were either at a school or getting ready to go to school.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 3/27/12 @ 9:30 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Deputies are searching for a man who a teen from Kanawha County says tried to kidnap her Tuesday morning.

Kanawha County Sheriff's deputies say 18-year-old Caitlyn Lett was waiting for the bus along Route 817 near St. Albans. The girl says the man drove up and jumped out of the passenger side of his van and attempted to grab her.

Lett says she got scared and froze, even though she remembers her parents telling her to yell out or do something to get away in these situations.

"I always was going to do that. But, as soon as it happened to me, I was in shock. I didn't know what to do," Lett says.

Deputies say a black truck passing through may have scared off the man.

"I'm glad that truck came up because, if not, I would have been who knows where," Lett says.

Sheriff's deputies are trying to determine if this case is linked to a similar incident in Wayne County last week.

That happened last Tuesday at the Buffalo Kindergarten Complex in Kenova.

A 13-year-old girl says a man tried to chase her, but she was able to run away and call 911.

In both cases, the victims described seeing a man in a white minivan. Deputies say they're working with other law enforcement agencies to determine if there's a tie between the cases.

"It's a true, violent predator. And, we want everyone to be very, very cautious, especially parents looking out for their children," says Lt. Sean Crosier with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office.

Lett says she still got on the bus, went to school and called her mother who called 911.

Deputies say the man involved appears to be in his 50s and with a muscular or stocky build. He was wearing a gray jacket and was driving a white minivan.

Deputies say they would also like to talk to the driver of the black truck that was passing through, to see if he could help identify the suspect.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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