Woman charged in kidnapping, rape of 5-year-old held on $4 million bail

Christina Regusters

February 15, 2013 10:55:39 AM PST
Police have charged a 19-year-old woman in connection with the abduction and rape of a 5-year-old girl from a West Philadelphia school in January.

Christina Regusters, of the 6200 block of Walton Avenue, is charged with 14 crimes in all including rape, kidnapping and assault.

During a court hearing on Friday, Regusters was ordered to be held on $4 million bail.

"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, escorting the 5-year-old out of Bryant Elementary School and wearing Muslim garb, back on January 14th.

Police say Regusters held the girl captive before letting her go. The girl was found the next morning in a nearby Upper Darby park wearing only a t-shirt.

Sources also say Regusters was a match to DNA taken from the victim's shirt.

Darby did confirm reports that Regusters recently moved into the area and 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.

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.

Regusters' neighbors said on Friday it was already a tense atmosphere on the block since last week, when it became clear the investigation was targeting the home.

Now, they are shocked at learning who police charged and what she has been charged with.

"No, not her! Oh my God, I can't imagine," said neighbor David Hicks.

Hicks said Regusters had recently been away at college.

"She was so soft-spoken. I never had a problem with her," said Hicks.

Also Friday morning, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey applauded the young girl for her ability to help investigators with details. He also commended the Special Victims Unit and their task force.

"The task force is staying together to make sure no one else is involved," Ramsey said. "This is a strong step in the right direction."