Bethlehem girl talks about near-abduction

April 5, 2011 2:45:13 PM PDT
Cassandra Mercadante, just 11 years old, says the days of walking her dog by herself are over.

"I walk my dog with my family members now because someone tried to take me," she said.

It happened last Friday, not a block from her house, near the corner of Maple and Raspberry Streets in Bethlehem.

Cassandra says a man quickly walked up to her, grabbed her by the arm, and told her to come with him.

She said her dog, Buster, saved the day by barking and jumping. It was enough to scare the attacker, who ran away.

Cassandra's grandfather, Joe Mercadante, says he's hoping the guy who did this is caught before he makes off with someone's child.

"If the guy keeps looking for young girls, he's not going to stop until he gets what he wants," he said. "Obviously he aint' stopping."

There have been two other cases, very similar to Cassandra's, in Bethlehem over the past three weeks.

Each time the description of the attacker has been very similar - a Hispanic man, in his early 20's, about 5'9" tall with some facial hair.

Local authorities are eager to find the person responsible before he becomes even more aggressive.

"An individual may just start out trying to talk to young girls, then maybe get a little bolder and try to lure them into their car. Ultimately, they'll get to the point where they're getting physical," said Det. William Dosedlo of the Bethlehem Police.

In one case, witnesses reported seeing a getaway vehicle, described as a metallic blue van with tinted windows.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Bethlehem Police Department.