Reported abduction attempt in Oakwood turns out to be false alarm

OAKWOOD - Parents and guardians of Oakwood Grade School students were notified Friday morning through the school's emergency alert system about a possible abduction attempt that turned out to be a false alarm, according to law enforcement officials.

Two Oakwood Grade School girls about 6 years old were playing this morning on a playground, that's near their house and near the grade school, when three junior-high-age boys spoke to the girls, scaring them and offering them candy, said Vermilion County Sheriff's Deputy Dustin Heckerson, who said it was a misunderstanding that was cleared up after deputies found the three boys playing on another playground nearby and spoke to them and the two girls.

Heckerson said the girls saw the three boys run toward a white van and thought they got inside, but deputies learned that the van belonged to a teacher at the school and the boys had walked behind it on their way to another playground where deputies found them after the incident had been reported to school officials and police.

Heckerson said the two girls had run home and told their grandmother, who went to the school and reported the incident to school officials.

Oakwood Grade School Principal Jean Neal said around 10:45 a.m., the grandmother came into the office with her two granddaughters, who are students at the grade school, and reported that the girls were on the playground when three males in a white van approached them and tried to offer them candy.

Neal said the school is holding parent-teacher conferences, so only parents attending those conferences and a few children were at the building on Scott Street at the time. Following the school's crisis management plan, Neal called 911, while Assistant Principal Mary Brady secured the perimeter of the building until police arrived. Neal also sent out a message to parents and guardians via the Alert Now system to notify them of the incident.

Neal said she was pleased by the immediate response from law enforcement, guidance from Superintendent Keven Forney and her staff for rallying together to secure the campus.

"I'm also certainly proud of my students for making a good choice and getting to safety," she continued.

Heckerson said everybody did exactly the right things, and he and several other sheriff's deputies immediately responded to Oakwood. Some deputies were interviewing the two girls as other deputies were stopping white vans in the area. He said about 10 to 12 white vans were stopped altogether before deputies had pieced together what had happened and found three boys on the playground.

Heckerson said the girls identified the three boys as the ones who were saying things to them on the playground. Heckerson said it was not an actual attempted crime, but was a good drill for everybody.

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jal173 wrote on October 22, 2011 at 12:10 am

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