Being aware of surroundings is of utmost importance

October 05, 2011|Erika Butler

Thank goodness everything turned out OK.

Thank goodness a mom was aware of her surroundings. Thank goodness she turned around in time. Thank goodness people elsewhere reported something strange. Thank goodness another person was paying attention.

Otherwise, things could have been a lot worse.

I'm talking about an incident Sept. 24 at a soccer field in Aldino, just a little outside Aberdeen, where a 49-year-old man allegedly tried to lure a 5-year-old boy into a cornfield.

Those athletic complexes can be complete zoos. People are everywhere. You've got the game going on, the coaches and parents on the sidelines, then the kids who aren't playing and who don't want to watch their sibling play, running around to keep themselves busy and amused. Those are the kids we have to worry about.

Fortunately, in this instance, the boy's mom turned to look for him just in time. Had there been a fast break on the soccer field, or if she was deep in conversation, we may have been writing a whole different story.

But this mom was looking for her son, and saw him as he was walking away from her and toward a cornfield with a man she didn't know. Not only did she not know him, she thought he had looked out of place just minutes before when he was standing next to her on the sidelines of the field.

She had the presence of mind to get a good look at the man, who was later identified as Brian Hamilton Childress, who police said doesn't have a permanent address. That helped when she had to give police a description of the man who tried to kidnap her son. She was able to ID him, and another man, as the one who was talking to her son.

Her description matched that of a suspicious person reported in the Carsins Run Road area about a week earlier by a man who lives there. The man told police the man he saw, Childress, wasn't familiar to him, so he followed him for a bit before losing him near Mahan Road. The man picked Childress out of a photo lineup.

In a day and age when so many people are so consumed with their own lives, and in some places neighbors don't have any idea who their neighbors are, it's good to know someone does. I like to think I do, or at least could recognize someone who doesn't belong in our neighborhood. I hope I could.

An employee at Carsins Run Deli also told police she saw Childress, whom she, too, identified in a photo lineup, loitering outside her store the same day as the alleged kidnapping. She also played a role in catching him.

It's easy to get caught up in whatever it is you're doing at any given moment, whether it be on the soccer field or at the shopping mall, but it's imperative that we, as parents, maintain a constant watch on our kids. Otherwise, one of us could end up in a situation like this mom did at the Aldino field. It's got to be a parent's worse nightmare.

Parents are encouraged to keep constant watch over children and remember how fast situations can develop, according to Monica Worrell, a spokeswoman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office. And if you notice something out of the ordinary, even something small, call police as a precaution.

"If you're in an area where someone seems out of place… call," Worrell said.

That's what happened in this case, which had a happy ending. Thank goodness.

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