Shouts of joy replaced anguished sobs in a Point Pleasant home yesterday when a 6-year-old girl was returned to her parents after being kidnapped from a school playground.
Lindsay Michelle Saxon, of the 900 block Point Pleasant Road, was found by Howard County police wandering along Route 1 shortly before 5:30 p.m., 2 hours after a man snatched her while she, her sister and some friends were playing at a playground behind Point Pleasant Elementary School.
"He just snatched her up," said Jamie Jones, 9, who was among the children with Lindsay in the playground. "He was running like a stiff man, a tin man. She was pounding on him and screaming."
As state and county police searched for the kidnapper, Lindsay's family and friends waited at the Saxon's home with Officer V. Richard Molloy, an Anne Arundel County police spokesman. At 5:30 p.m., Molloy got a call from Anne Arundel County police. Lindsay had been found, safe The tiny kitchen erupted with screams and shouts. Family members sobbed, jumped from their seats and hugged each other.
Lindsay's mother, Jean Saxon, who had been crying throughout the ordeal, continued to sob and hugged friends and neighbors who had crowded into the kitchen.
"My little girl," she said. "Oh thank God."
"Oh my God, they found her!," shouted Marty Hyson, the child's brother-in-law. "They found her, hear that? I gotta sit down."
Lindsay's parents went to the North County police station and returned home with their daughter about 7:30 p.m. They were surrounded by family, friends and reporters who had gathered there.
Molloy said the girl appeared to be in "good physical condition," and her parents were taking her to North Arundel Hospital for a check-up.
While Lindsay's family and friends were cheering, police were still looking last night for her kidnapper, whom Molloy described as a white, middle-aged man with dark-brown hair and a mustache. The man was seen driving a faded green Chevrolet-type car.
Police believe the man may be the same person who tried to abduct a 5-year-old girl about 10:30 a.m. yesterday outside a home on Crainmont Court in Glen Burnie.
"The description of the car used in that incident is the same," Molloy said.
Lindsay, a first-grader at Point Pleasant Elementary School on Dumbarton Road, was building sand castles on the school playground with her sister and friends about 3 p.m. when the kidnapper walked up to them and struck up a conversation.
"He saw us and said to my sister, 'What are you doing?' " said Danielle Saxon, 9. "My sister said she was building a castle and to please leave it alone."
The man then picked up Lindsay and began running with her tucked under his arm, Danielle said.
Danielle and Jamie Jones said they chased the man. They said he threw Lindsay into the faded green car and drove off.
"I was so close to the car, I almost got run over," Danielle said.
The girls then ran to the house of a nearby friend, who called police.
A state police helicopter took off from school grounds and began searching the area for the car until nightfall.
Friends and neighbors also joined on- and off-duty police officers in the search.
"We went all up and down Marley Neck Road and all over that area," said Pat Labarre, a family member.
As friends searched, Jean Saxon paced up and down the floor of her kitchen and in and out of the house. She looked up and down the street, hoping to spot some sign of her daughter.
"All the kids in the neighborhood go there and play," she sobbed. "I have never been afraid for them to go there."
Jean Saxon said she drove up to the school about 2:30 p.m. to tell her daughters that she was going shopping and when they were finished playing, they were to go straight to a friend's home.
"I should have told them they had to leave the playground then," she said.
While neighbors who had gathered at the Saxon home rejoiced, they also said they were shocked that a kidnapping could happen in their neighborhood.
"I've lived here all my life and you never think this could happen to you," Hyson said. "The little girls, what could they do? They did the smartest thing, ran to a neighbor's."
Hyson praised neighborhood residents for their help in the search for Lindsay.
"I can't believe how everyone has pulled together here," he said. "I can't believe someone would just pick a child up in broad daylight."
"I never stopped hoping, praying and crying," said Betty Ross, a neighbor and close family friend.
"It's very unusual for around here," said neighborhood resident Thomas Robertson. "You never think it could happen here, but I guess you really can't pick neighborhoods where it would anymore."