PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A passer-by found an abducted 5-year-old girl huddled beneath a playground slide in the pre-dawn cold Tuesday, nearly 20 hours after a stranger claiming to be her mother signed her out of her Philadelphia elementary school under the guise of taking her to breakfast.
Nelson Mandela Myers said he found the freezing girl barefoot, wearing only a damp adult-sized T-shirt. He was drawn to the park in Upper Darby by her cries for help.
“She was just mainly shivering and saying that she was cold,” he said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Myers, 27, wrapped her in his jacket and called police from his cellphone. “I’m just glad I was there at the right time.”
The girl was taken Monday morning from the William C. Bryant School, in West Philadelphia. Authorities released surveillance video showing a woman wearing a full-length, black Muslim garment, her face covered by a black veil, taking the girl out of the school.
After being discovered Tuesday, the girl was taken to the hospital to be checked out, but police said she did not appear to be hurt. Capt. John Darby of the Philadelphia police department said officials are screening the girl to determine if she may have been sexually assaulted.
“There were no overt signs of physical injuries to the child,” Darby said at a news conference, adding that police have had only preliminary interviews with the girl. “We have a fragile victim here.”
According to Darby, she told her rescuer: “I’ve been stolen.”
District officials said school policy was not followed in releasing the girl into her abductor’s custody.
The girl’s mother had appeared on local media Monday night, tearfully pleading for her safe return, and explaining how she also wears the traditional chador and niqab.
The Associated Press is not naming her because it generally doesn’t identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
Darby said the suspect went into the school Monday a short time after the girl’s mother had dropped her off there. The woman signed in with a hall monitor — using an illegible signature — and then went straight to the girl’s classroom. “She indicated that she was the child’s mother,” Darby said. “And that she was going to take the child to breakfast.”
The suspect apparently knew and targeted the girl, Darby said, but the girl did not know her. However, she appeared to go willingly.
Police are looking for the suspect and trying to track down more information. Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said it appears the girl was driven or walked to the playground. Investigators are trying to track down surveillance footage from the area.
“We believe that the little girl was dumped here,” Chitwood said.
Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the school district, said the district is investigating. Under the school’s policy, he said, the woman should have signed in at the door and then gone straight to the office — not the classroom. “The exchange does not happen at the classroom level,” he said.
The district is investigating the incident and reviewing its policies with school employees, Gallard said.
In a different incident at the same school, three 10- and 11-year-old boys were charged in November 2011 after reportedly sexually assaulting another boy in the restroom.
Myers, the rescuer, was on his way to work when he heard the girl’s cries, and his thoughts turned to his own 5-year-old daughter.
“I just wanted to do the same thing someone would do for my child,” he said.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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