19-year-old charged in girl's kidnapping from West Phila. school

February 15, 2013 3:30:31 AM PST
Police have charged a 19-year-old woman in connection with the abduction of a 5-year-old girl from a West Philadelphia school in January.

19-year-old Christina Regusters of the 6200 block of Walton Avenue is charged with kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, rape, aggravated assault, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, unlawful restraint, contact with a minor, false imprisonment, interference with the custody of a child, indecent assault, concealing the whereabouts of a child, simple assault, corruption of minors, and recklessly endangering another person.

14 crimes in all and 11 of which are felonies.

"This is the only arrest at this time. The investigation is very much active and ongoing by members of the Special Victims Unit," Philadelphia Police Captain John Darby said at a news conference Thursday night.

Sources tell Action News that Regusters was the woman seen on school surveillance video wearing the Muslim garb.

Sources also say detectives got a match with DNA taken from the victim's shirt.

When asked about the DNA, Captain Darby responded by saying, "I can't relate specifically as it responds to physical evidence."

Darby did confirm reports that Regusters worked at the daycare the victim attended after school.

"There had been contact there, in fact she did work at that location and did have contact with the little girl, prior," Darby said.

Late Thursday, Special Victims investigators continued to gather evidence from Regusters' row home on Walton Avenue.

After detectives secured a warrant to comb through the home, they had animal control confiscate a bird, a macaw, now believed to be a crucial piece of evidence.

Sources say the child had told police there was a bird in the home and that she was told by her abductors that if she didn't do as she was told, the bird would peck her eyes out.

Earlier in the day, police took Christina Regusters and three others - a man, a woman, and a teenage boy - into custody for questioning.

"At this point we have no charges [for the three]. There were two adults, an adult male, an adult female, and a juvenile, here at Special Victims Unit again tonight being questioned; at this particular time, the charges that I have listed are only as they apply to Ms. Regusters," Darby said.

Police sources tell Action News that they believe the adult male is the girl's attacker.

The teenage boy is believed to be a material witness.

The group was initially questioned last week after the victim was able to identify the back of the home.

"I've said this several times, she's been a trooper. A very brave little girl," Darby said.

The house is located about half a block from Cobbs Creek Park. On the other side of the park is Upper Darby, where the girl was found.

As far as Regusters being the person who dropped the 5-year-old off at the park, Darby would only say, "I think the charges speak for themselves. I can't go further than that at this particular time. The investigation is ongoing so we don't want to jeopardize that."

High power civil attorney Tom Kline, who represents the victim, spoke with Action News.

"Her mom told me she is anxious and awaiting the police to inform her further as to what happens here and what is going to happen next in terms of formal charges, in terms of bringing the people who did this horrible deed to her little girl to justice," Kline said.

The 5-year-old girl was kidnapped from the Bryant Elementary School at 60th and Cedar Avenue.

The girl was found in an Upper Darby playground early the next morning and returned to her mother.

An $80,000 reward has been posted by the Citizens Crime Commission for the capture of the kidnappers. The community of local Muslims says it is putting up at least $20,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

There is no word at this time if anyone is eligible to collect any of the reward money.

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