News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Week in Crime: Was There an Attempted Abduction at Baron Cameron Park? Depends What E-Mail You Got (Updated)

The Reston Soccer Association has alerted parents about a potential abduction at Baron Cameron Park. The suspect matches the description of a man recently involved in a similar situation at a field in Arlington:

There was a recent incident of a man trying to lure children from area sports parks. This one was close to home, Baron Cameron Park. Police are not sure if the incident is related to the Arlington event last weekend (below), but the descriptions of the man/car are similar. As such, with the safety of our players in mind, please note the following:

We had an incident in which a stranger approached a player leaving the field in what might have been an attempted kidnapping. There were parents/coaches around and the attempt was immediately thwarted but the individual fled the area. We have subsequently learned that an individual with a similar description had approached a player at the field earlier in the day. We have filed a report with the Fairfax County Police and they are investigating. For your information the description is a white male, 5'6' - 5'7', about 150 lbs, between 40 and 45 years of age. He drove away in a black Volvo or Mercedes. We wanted to make sure that everyone had this info in case the individual is visiting multiple ball fields.
RSA is tightening security measures at its games and practices.

Update: Minutes after this post, Fairfax County Police issued a lengthy clarification of the incidents:
Fairfax County Police are aware of information in the community being circulated mainly through email. This information is in reference to an alleged "attempted kidnapping" of either a little league player or unspecified child. Police are unaware of any such crime occurring within Fairfax County within the last several weeks. Police urge anyone with direct knowledge of any such incident to contact us at 703-691-2131.

This information may be related to an event that occurred on Saturday, September 19 at Bucknell Elementary School where a man, operating a remote controlled car, talked to some children and picked up a child. The man did not grab the boy or attempt to leave the area with him; he picked the boy up and without prompting, he put the boy down and left. While this is suspicious behavior, it is unknown what the intent of the man was.

While no actual crime has occurred, police would be interested in speaking with this man. The man was described as white, in his 50s to 60s, 6 feet tall, with grey hair, and driving a dark Volvo or Mercedes.

And here's the Reston connection:
On September 30, a citizen reported to police that on September 10 she saw a suspicious man at Baron Cameron Park in Reston. The citizen reported that the man was operating a remote controlled toy and speaking with a child. The man never touched the child and no crime occurred. He was described as white, in his 40s, 5 feet 9 inches tall, and driving a silver vehicle. It is unknown if this man is the same individual reported on in the Bucknell school event.
Weirder and weirder.

Update #2: RSA weighs in with its own clarifications:
Earlier this week email traffic alleged one or two recent possible “attempted kidnapping”s at Alexandria Potomac Little League, and then later this week another email thread alleged another incident of “a man trying to lure children” from Baron Cameron Park. These are serious allegations which we forwarded. Based on what we now know, these allegations appear to be a false alarm.

Since forwarding this information, Reston Soccer has learned the following:

1. Fairfax County Police Department is reporting that both incidents are unsubstantiated rumors. The full text of their press release is below, and available online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/news-releases/2009/100209baroncameronupdate.htm

2. The event at Baron Cameron occurred on Sept. 10, 2009 and was reported 20 days later on Sept. 30. Fairfax Police have determined that no crime was committed.

3. In a phone conversation earlier today, Fairfax County Police PFC Bud Walker stated that the “attempted kidnapping” at Alexandria Potomac Little League is unsubstantiated and that FCPD’s calls to Alexandria Potomac Little League have not been returned.

4. Reston Soccer’s calls to the Alexandria Police Department’s Media Services Unit have also not been returned.
All in all, a great lesson about believing forwarded e-mails -- and about keeping an eye on your kids. While this appears to have been a false alarm, past incidents have been all too real. Happy Friday, everyone, and enjoy those weekend soccer games!

11 comments:

  1. that made my head hurt

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, that first email (which I got from a local mom's group to which I belong) sounded very fishy to me. How could anyone kidnap a kid from a little league game?? Do you know how many adults must have been around? Makes no sense at all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I thought Roman Polanski was in Switzerland. What's he doing in Reston?

    ReplyDelete
  4. anonymous 2:15 am -- it sounds like a kid wouldn't disappear in such circumstances, but have you ever been at a pool party where the parents are supposedly watching the kids? They're busy talking (men AND women) and its very easy for a kid to drown. I was just at a youth football game this a.m. and while a dad was watching his player, his two younger sons were wandering further into the woods. He snapped back to them pretty quickly, but still. It happens very fast. Balancing vigilance with common sense...tough line to walk sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  5. if we had a Rec Center there, we would've caught the guy. the parking lot would've had security cameras to record not only the photograph of the perp, but the license plate on his getaway car.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous 1:45 on Oct 4 -- I don't think they budgeted for security cameras. Only at the Reston International HQ will they have those...to monitor the lowlife who come to pay for their pool passes.

    ReplyDelete
  7. No crime was committed. It's not even clear that a crime was attempted. Sounds like some people have been staying up too late at night reading Stephen King novels.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is really good reporting. I came home from a business trip this weekend to complete hysteria in my home on account of "an attempted kidnapping" with references to soccer league e-mails as the "proof." Hmmm. Google searched to this site. Good work. This is how urban legends get started.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonOctober 5, 2009 at 6:06 PM

    Sure enough, Anon 2:52 is right -- put the words "Reston kidnapping" into Google or the advanced search function of Google, and this esteemed blog is the first result listed. Not bad for a "filthy Web-log run by non-professional journalists"

    ReplyDelete
  10. Reston soccer hasn't been having a good week. First this, then a car kit a kid during soccer practice at Transco at the weekend. Lawyer up, everybody.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Not the first time for such false accusations to scare up unnecessary concern within a community. One year ago at this time, in a southwest Virginia town (Gate City) there were false reports given out to the media networks about a woman going around trying to take kids from daycares. There was obviously many mistakes made by authorities in that case. Consequently, that woman was arrested and held without a bond for about 8 or 9 months before the commonwealth attorney finally dismissed those charges.
    Some people just enjoy the attention that they get from creating and maintaining these dramatic cases in which they are either the victim or appear to be so concerned about the welfare of children. Certainly, there are children being taken from different parts of this country (especially in lesser economically developed areas) every day without so much as word mentioned across the national media stations, and not near the attention that this case received (for months) from media outlets in at least four state jurisdictions. In the end, it was all about misinformation and in some cases, even within law enforcement, outright lies. Supposedly, there is evidence that supports these conclusions.
    This woman apparently maintained her innocence on those charges of attempted child abduction and stalking. After it reached a certain point, everyone, even the authorities and the press were in too deep and therefore committed to this bogus story. The Commonwealth Attorney, who not only knew the 'witnesses' in that case, but actually helped remind (or persuade) them about what they had seen - In order to create even a weak case for probable cause. Too much time and resources were wasted on those false claims of attempted child abduction. Not enough is being spent on the real problems concerning this type of crime.
    As I understand it, this woman was/is in a child custody battle for her own child with the child's father. I also know that she had accummulated some criminal financial charges during that fight. I'm not certain about all of those troubles but it seems like she has had to pay a bigger price than most. It also seems unjust that people in authority there (Gate City) would find her a legitimate target to use, based on those financial troubles/charges, in order to cover up their own inadequate investigation and poor police work.
    If you are someone who cannot have any sympathy for what happened to her, based on her charges of financial crimes or simply that it doesn't affect you so, oh well, then think again. You should at least be concerned about the amount of money spent on a criminal charge that the state never anticipated having to go to trial on. I have heard, for instance, that the Commonwealth Attorney had paid this woman's ex husband, whom she is in a custody battle with, over $1,300. to come and testify against her (in their attempt to 'prove' her intent by showing what a bad person she is). Outrageous! Will the Virginia State taxpayers even get that money back? Or, all of the money it took the state to fight a case in which they had known of her innocence on all along? No, I guess not. I have heard from someone, though, that this woman plans to sue and then give every dime of what is rewarded to childrens organization like the Organization for Missing and Exploited Children. Maybe she is the only one who has learned anything from this; however, I hope not.

    ReplyDelete

(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).