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UPDATED: Second abduction attempted; composite sketches released

Officials confirm two youths were reportedly approached by alleged kidnappers Monday

Posted: October 13, 2009 10:23 p.m.
Updated: October 20, 2009 10:52 a.m.

On Monday night, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station released this alert with composite sketch of the suspect sought in the alleged attempted kidnapping of an 11-year-old bot in Tesoro Del Valle Oct. 12.

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Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s detectives on Tuesday were investigating a pair of attempted child abductions that occurred within hours of each other earlier this week, officials said.

On Monday afternoon, an 11-year-old boy walking near Tesoro Del Valle Elementary School fled from a man who got out of a silver car and told the child get in, a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station report said.

About six hours earlier in an apparently unrelated incident, a 15-year-old girl fled from a man who grabbed her in Newhall, sheriff’s officials said.

Sheriff’s and school officials did not confirm the boy’s attempted kidnapping until Tuesday, upsetting the child’s parents, who took it upon themselves to circulate a warning e-mail to others in the community.

Meanwhile, deputies have increased patrols around schools, officials said.

About 3:05 p.m. on Monday, the boy was walking in the 29200 block of Las Brisas Road when a silver car pulled up. A man who was a passenger in the car got out and told him to get in, according to a sheriff’s report.

The boy fled, and the man got back into the car, which followed the boy about 50 feet before making a U-turn and leaving as the boy called his mother on his cell phone.

The incident was reported to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station about one hour later. Deputies searched for the vehicle in the area but were unable to locate it. They immediately alerted officials at nearby Tesoro Del Valle Elementary School, the report said.

Meanwhile, the boy’s parents sent e-mail alerts throughout the community that day, complaining the child’s school did not warn other parents quickly enough.

“Parents should have been notified (Monday),” the boy’s mother Darla Burns said Tuesday morning, adding that the school instead chose to wait for its weekly Tuesday newsletter to release the information.

“(Parents) are going to let their children walk home from school today without the knowledge because they’re probably not going to get the bulletin until after dinner tonight.”

Burns and her husband shared the news through the social networking Web site Facebook and sent hundreds of e-mail to neighbors, friends and PTA leaders, asking them to forward the message to others, she said.

“We took it upon ourselves because we didn’t feel they were handling it with urgency,” the boy’s father, Kerwin Burns, said.
Tesoro Del Valle Elementary School Principal Mary Post said the school did not call or e-mail parents because it does not have the capacity to make such alerts.

Instead, the school immediately notified Saugus Union School District officials and the PTA president, released the information in the school’s weekly newsletter the next day and discussed general safety issues with students in class, Post said.

“We are dealing with kindergarten through sixth grade, so we want to be very careful,” Post said, adding that the students were not told specifics about the incident. “We don’t want children being hysterical. We don’t want them leaving campus crying.”

Sheriff’s officials also posted a press release, sent out community e-mail alerts and made Twitter entries on Tuesday, nearly 20 hours after the incident.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darren Harris said the information could not be sent out sooner because deputies had to verify and investigate the report, which came an hour after the attempted kidnapping occurred.

“Any incident of this type that occurs should be immediately reported to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station via 9-1-1,” Harris said, adding that the first Monday incident was also reported late by about two hours.

“We want to be able to get to the area quickly and apprehend these individuals.”

The suspect who approached the 11-year-old is described as a man between 18 and 21 years old, wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, the report said.

The driver of the vehicle is described as a man 30 to 40 years old.

The vehicle is described as a four-door, silver 1990s Toyota or Nissan sedan with two dents on the front passenger side door, and the license plate possibly begins with the number five, the report said.

The suspect in the earlier incident is described as a bald Hispanic man in his 40s, about 180 pounds and 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall. He was wearing a blue T-shirt, blue jeans and white leather gloves.

His vehicle is described as a white, four-door compact car with no license plates and damage to the front bumper area, the report said.

Deputies ask anyone with information about either incident to contact the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at (661) 255-1121.

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