Attempted abduction of 6-year old Howell girl may not have happened, police say
A report of a six year old Howell girl nearly being abducted by an unidentified man on Sunday may have been made up.
Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick has released a statement announcing that he is suspending the investigation.
Chief Kudrick says after his officers dedicated several hours into the investigation, they determined that it was highly unlikely someone had the opportunity to commit this crime.
Chief Kudrick said he doesn't believe this act occurred.
Howell Police officers responded on Sunday afternoon to Crooked Stick Court in the Adelphia Greens residential development, off of Route 9 and the Freehold border.
A six-year-old girl told police that a man placed a plastic bag over her head, while she was the last one outside cleaning up toys, after playing with friends.
The girl said he never tried to grab her, but she screamed and then went inside.
The girl was not hurt in the incident, police said.
Police said at the time that the man was described as "a white male driving a black SUV."
The black SUV was observed sitting in the parking space for an extended period of time, police said, before the incident.
A woman named Elizabeth Connor posted on the Howell police Facebook page Sunday evening, identifying herself as a parent of the child involved.
She said that the girl was playing in a group, ranging in age from 6 to nearly 12-years-old, and that there was a "90-second window" when the group split up and the girl's older brother had run inside to get water bottles, when the incident happened.
Connor also said the girl tore the bag away and screamed for her brother, and by the time she was outside the man was gone.
Now it appears the incident may not have taken place in the way it was reported, according to police.
Howell Police Chief Kudrick released the following statement on Tuesday night:
"As of this evening, I have made the decision to suspend the ongoing investigation into the incident that occurred Sunday afternoon on Crooked Stick Court. A detailed description can be found on a previous post.
Since Sunday, the community has been on edge believing there may be a person still out there who attempted to abduct a 6 year old. As the Chief of Police, I have to make a determination how an investigation of such importance and significance is handled.
Over the 48 hours since the initial report, Howell officers have dedicated several hundred hours into this investigation. From increased patrols, interviewing of residents and vehicle occupants either reported or seen on video, canvassing the neighborhood, reviewing surveillance footage and the use of other investigative technology, no evidence has surfaced.
A forensic interview designed for children and conducted by specially trained professionals was conducted yesterday. In addition, video and audio footage surfaced late yesterday that gave us a good insight into the child's activity. There's a brief period of time where the child cannot be seen on video.
Today, to test the possibility this act occurred during that brief period of time the child is not seen, Howell detectives retraced the footsteps and created a timeline. They determined it was highly unlikely someone had the opportunity to commit this offense during this time.
This afternoon, I conferenced with all those who were involved in this investigation. Based upon all that has been presented to me including an extensive investigation, lack of any type of evidence, video/audio footage and the result of the interview with the child, I do not believe this act occurred.
As the Chief of Police and more importantly as a father I would not make such a decision if I felt it placed anyone especially a child in harm's way. I have immediate family living in Adelphia Greens. I advised them it was safe to resume their normal activities around the development.
This is the best result to this investigation. Although this is my determination, we will still pursue any credible leads that may develop. I thank the entire community for spreading the word and providing us with information. We are all partners in this community."
No further information was released on if any charges are pending.
Previous reporting by Erin Vogt was used in this story.
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