Schools send out letters detailing abduction try

Alert follows report by girl, 8, that man tried to lure her into car

March 28, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt and Stephanie Desmon | Laura Barnhardt and Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

An 8-year-old girl's report of a weekend abduction attempt in Severna Park has prompted administrators in area schools to send a letter home with children giving details and suggesting that parents discuss it with them.

The message to parents - sent Monday - included an account of the incident and a description of a middle-aged man who the girl said approached her as she walked her dog Saturday evening on Drexel Drive near St. Ives Drive in the Chartwell neighborhood.

The girl told police the man pulled alongside her driving a light-blue compact car. She said he first asked to buy her socks, then circled the block and asked her name and her dog's name. He approached her a third time - revealing a silver-colored handgun - and told her he would give her a ride home and to get into his car, according to the police reports.

The girl screamed and ran to a neighbor's house, said Officer Charles Ravenell, a police spokesman.

The account of the incident sent to parents was provided by "the community," according to the schools' message to parents. The letter said that "this incident may be related to a similar recent incident in Pasadena."

Police said yesterday that there was no connection to the Pasadena incident, in which a 12-year-old girl was approached by a group of teen-agers in a car who tried to take her scooter.

The letters were sent to parents of children at seven Severna Park schools: Benfield, Folger-McKinsey, Jones, Oak Hill, Shipley's Choice and Severna Park elementaries and Severna Park Middle School.

The school system decided to send the letters because rumors were rampant in the community and because it would encourage families to discuss what happened, school officials said. "We like to remind parents to talk to their children about safety," said Michael Walsh, a school district spokesman.

"It's sad to think your children can't take a walk with the dog in front of the house," said Terra Ziporyn Snider, who received the letter and has three children, two at Jones Elementary School and one at Severna Park Middle School. "I guess I am a little more concerned about allowing my children to walk freely."

She said she discussed - again - with her children how to react if they are confronted by a stranger. But she still allowed her fifth-grade daughter, Sage, to walk the three blocks to school yesterday. "We can't keep our children in a box," she said.

Police asked that anyone with information about the reported abduction attempt Saturday call Detective Michael Mulford at 410-222-3462.

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