A police investigation into an alleged attempted child abduction reported Thursday was based on false information given by the 11-year-old alleged victim, according to a statement released Friday morning.
Perryville Police Department spokesman Jeri Cain on Friday told the Republic-Monitor that the 11-year-old alleged victim made the claim to avoid contradicting what her older sister had told their father regarding a ride she had received.
“The sister had seen her get into a vehicle,” Cain said, “and told dad that night at 9:30 p.m. that she got into a car with some guy she didn’t know.”
According to the child’s initial statement, she had been walking to school Tuesday morning with her sister, but the sister left to return home for a forgotten item.
According to the child's statement, the suspect — who she said was driving a silver car — approached after her sibling left and asked if she needed a ride. The child reported that the man said he knew her aunt, and that she got into the vehicle with the suspect.
As he drove toward the school, she told police she became uncomfortable with the comments the man made to her, and when the vehicle stopped at a stop sign, she unlocked her door and fled the vehicle.
The false statement came to light Thursday evening when an adult female contacted the police department regarding the incident.
According to a statement released by the department, the woman told officers that she had been the person who gave the 11-year-old a ride back to the child’s house on Tuesday morning in her silver Chrysler 300. The woman also told officers that she knew the family involved as well as the children’s aunt.
Police interviewed the child a second time and she admitted giving false information.
“The 11-year-old went with it because she didn’t want to go against her big sister,” Cain said.
The description given by the 11-year-old in her statement matched the description of a suspect in another case, prompting a news release from the department on Thursday.
The previous incident, reported on Oct. 24, is still an open investigation, Cain said.
In that case, a man in a silver car approached a St. Vincent Elementary School student walking home from school. The man attempted to engage the student in conversation and made her uncomfortable. She fled on foot back to school.
“It’s important for parents to talk to their children about ‘stranger danger’ at any age," Cain said. "Have a password between you that is only given out if someone else is to pick up your child. Explain to them if the person offering a ride doesn’t know the password, they don’t go.”
The man in the Oct. 24 incident was described as a balding, white, middle-aged male with missing teeth and an unknown tattoo on his left hand. The suspect was driving a older model silver car at the time of the incident.
“There is no indication that it was a false report,” Cain said. “It is still an active case for our department.”
Cain said the department is still developing leads in the case and more information might be forthcoming. She also offered advice to parents and children.
“If your child walks to and from school, know their route," Cain said. "Walk it with them and find someone you may know along the route that could be a safe haven for them in the event of someone approaching them. Never get within arm’s reach of someone in a vehicle that has approached them.”
The police department is requesting anyone with information regarding either of these incidents, please contact officer Blake Wright or Det. Jordan Bain at 573-547-4546.
“As always, we encourage ‘see something, say something.’ Contact the police department immediately if your child has been approached by a stranger. The sooner we have officers in the area, the better chance of locating a suspect.”
In the meantime, Cain said the police department will be expanding patrols near school zones in an effort to ensure student safety as well as working with the local schools to raise awareness of "stranger danger."
“We are always willing to provide programming for both students and parents about this topic and many others,” Cain said.