Attempted luring in Upper Darby; police release new sketch, photo

May 8, 2013 2:39:54 PM PDT
It's every parent's fear: that someone will take their child on the way to school. That nearly became a reality for a family in Upper Darby on Tuesday.

Detectives say a man driving a black car caught by a surveillance camera tried to snatch a 14-year-old girl who was heading to Beverly Hills Middle School Tuesday morning.

Fortunately, a restaurant owner was there to thwart the crime.

Police released a composite sketch Wednesday, along with a surveillance photo of the suspect's car.

They strongly believe the suspect intended but failed to abduct the victim because she did the smart thing: she sought help from the owner of a restaurant.

Alston Ross was behind the counter of his Soul Food Spot on Sherbrook Boulevard when the 14-year-old came in, begging for help.

"She had this frightened look on her face," said Ross. "She approached me and said, 'Sir, could you help me? Please, could you please just help me?' I said, 'What's going on?'"

The teenager had been walking to Beverly Hills Middle School in the area of Sherbrooke and Springton. A man pulled alongside and asked if she needed a ride. At first, she ignored him.

"He just wouldn't stop," said Ross. "She said then he became crazy. He was like, 'Get in the car!' and she said that's when she got frightened."

Ross and the girl stepped outside and saw the suspect parked just down the street.

He pulled away toward Garrett Road. Ross walked the victim to school. They called police and alerted parents. Many drove their kids to school on Wednesday.

"I suggest that if you can, do it now," said parent Elizabeth Martinez. "We don't want our kids to be captured or disappear or anything like that."

Police believe the suspect shown in the composite sketch released Wednesday failed in his abduction attempt because the victim did the right thing and sought out help from an adult.

"These are the kind of guys that are dangerous," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. "We want to get this guy off the street."

"She came to the right place, cause I wasn't going to let nothing happen to her," said Ross.

If you recognize the man in the sketch or the car he was driving, possibly a late model Buick, you are asked to contact Upper Darby Police at 610-734-7693.