COLUMBIA, ILLINOIS – Columbia police determined Monday morning that an attempted abduction of a 11-year-old boy Friday night never occurred.
Police will forward juveniles charges to Monroe County prosecutors for their review.
“We are extremely happy to learn that this incident did not occur in our community,” Police Chief Joe Edwards said. “We are very disappointed that anyone would fabricate an incident of this magnitude.”
This hoax follows a similar one that was reported in East Carondelet.
An 11-year-old girl falsely claimed Sunday night that a man attempted to kidnap her while she was with her 19-year-old sister at an East Carondelet park, Police Chief Michael Dennis said.
Two adults who persuaded the girl to make the report were charged Monday with felonies, East Carondelet Mayor Herb Simmons said.
Marlona J. Pollard, 19, of 1206 State St. in East Carondelet, and her boyfriend, Tony M. Johnson, 23, of 4118 Michigan Ave. in St. Louis, each face single counts of disorderly conduct for filing the false reports, Simmons said. Johnson was being held on $40,000 bail and Pollard on $20,000 bail.
“Why people do this? I have no idea,” Simmons said. “I’m glad it’s put to rest.”
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has been contacted in regard to the girl, Simmons said.
Columbia police had received a report from the 11-year-old boy and his older sister at about 8 p.m. Friday that a man attempted to abduct the boy near West Locust and North Main Street.
Police drew up a sketch of the suspect based on the boy’s detailed description of the man. Media and area police departments were alerted in an attempt to identify the suspect.
“The Columbia Police Department made this investigation our highest priority. We have been working around the clock since Friday night to identify the suspect,” Edwards said.
But after the leads failed to identify the suspect, police re-interviewed the brother and sister. The older sister admitted to not being with her brother at the incident. Following another interview with the boy Monday morning, police determined the abduction did not occur.
In the East Carondelet case, police originally received a report that a man grabbed the girl and attempted to take her at about 7:45 p.m. Sunday from a park on Seventh Street. She escaped and the man fled east toward Dupo, police were told.
But after interviewing the girl and Pollard, the only other witness, police realized it was a false report.
The abduction report and a description of the suspect were broadcast over ISPERN (Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network) before East Carondelet police realized the report was a hoax.
Meanwhile, Monroe County authorities do have confidence in the three separate reports they received in July and early August of a suspicious man who was spotted watching or following children in the Waterloo and Hecker areas.
“There is nothing to lead us to believe that these aren’t true accounts,” Waterloo Police Chief Jim Trantham said.
In all three cases, the witnesses provided a similar description of the man and of his behavior, Trantham said.
The subject is described as a white male with a scruffy beard, who was in his 30s or 40s. He was driving a white Chevrolet Silverado pickup with a tool box and, in one report, a dog in the bed.
So far, the man has not touched the children, Monroe County Sheriff Dan Kelley said.