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Police have leads on child abduction

Published: Monday, June 30, 2014 4:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 30, 2014 4:40 p.m. CDT

WALNUT — The investigation continues into an attempted child abduction June 12 in Walnut.

On Thursday, Walnut Police Chief Tom Ptasnik said they have some leads and are continuing to follow-up on them with assistance from the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department. Authorities are taking the incident very seriously and are doing their best to make an arrest, the police chief said.

As reported earlier, an 11-year-old girl was riding her bike with friends around 9 p.m. June 12 on Main Street when the girl hurt her leg and sent her friends on without her. She said she was approached by a man in a silver-gray van who grabbed her, but he let her go after she started screaming and kicking.

A collaborating witness saw the van prior to the incident, Ptasnik said. The man was described as in his 50s with black hair and no facial hair or distinguishing marks or scars.

As far as safety concerns for area families, Ptasnik said he’s telling parents and families to use the same caution as they always do and to be mindful of their surroundings. Parents should always make sure they know where their kids are, he said.

On Friday, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said his investigators are trying to develop and analyze everything available to them. At this point, there is no reason to think the Walnut attempt was connected to another attempted child abduction on June 21 in Utica. As always in these cases, his investigators would look to see if there are any similarities in the description of the vehicles or persons or patterns.

In the Utica incident, a 10-year-old girl was grabbed by a man about 8:30 p.m. June 21. The girl pulled away and the man walked away. The man was described as white in his 30s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, of medium build and with shoulder-length wavy black hair, sideburns, a goatee and mustache.

Thompson also reminded parents and children to be aware of their surroundings.

“I have to reiterate what I’ve said before. We aren’t living in the society we once lived,” Thompson said. “I suggest parents need to know where their kids are playing all the time, not just that they re out playing, but where they are playing. They need to know the route their kids are taking, whether they are coming from school or a friend’s house. You need to encourage your kids to play in groups because there is safety in numbers. I don’t trust anyone outside my law enforcement group, my family and friends in the county, and our residents should look at it the same way.”

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