Juneau police are trying to find and identify two girls who escaped an abduction attempt last July, an incident police said they did not learn about until this week.
A witness to the July 2013 incident came forward to police this week after hearing about a recent child enticement case. Police are investigating whether the two are related.
Police say a man came into the JPD station and reported that he punched a man trying to abduct two girls at the bus stop near Walmart sometime during the week of July 12-19, 2013. The man’s actions thwarted the abductor’s attempt, and the girls ran away unharmed to the neighboring Switzer Village trailer park, the man told police.
Lt. Kris Sell said no one ever reported the incident to police at the time due to a miscommunication between witnesses. But police are now trying to identify the girls, approximately 8 to 9 years old, as part of their investigation into a criminal enticement case reported last week.
On Feb. 6, an 11-year-old girl was walking home after school on Stephen Richards Memorial Drive in the valley when a stranger in a pickup truck asked if she wanted a ride home. She ran away unharmed, police said. School staff at Floyd Dryden Middle School reported the incident to JPD the next day.
In both cases, the children were asked if they wanted a ride, and both cases may involve a man in his 40s or 50s, according to descriptors released by JPD.
Two men were involved in the Feb. 6 case — a driver and passenger in a pickup truck. The driver was described as in his 50s with a black and grey beard, and the passenger (who talked to the girl) was described as a white male in his 30s and wearing an olive green baseball hat.
The suspect in the July 2013 case, on the other hand, was described as a white man in his late 40s or 50s, thin build and about six feet tall, black hair with some gray in it and a goatee.
The vehicle descriptions police received were different. In the more recent case, police said the vehicle is a dark blue Toyota pickup truck. The black canopy had the back window missing but the canopy had intact side windows. The ‘Toyota’ signature across the tailgate is missing letters that have either faded or been peeled off.
The vehicle in the July 2013 case is described as a maroon Ford Ranger with a black canopy and Texas license plates.
Police said they identified vehicles that may have been involved in the Feb. 6 case, but that when shown pictures, the girl said it was not those vehicles.
The 2013 case seems more calculated and aggressive than the case from last week, according to the witness’ account to police. (Police have not released the witness’ name.)
The witness told police that in mid-July, he was at a bus stop near Walmart standing near the two girls whom he did not know when a man in a pickup truck pulled up and parked nearby.
The witness said he watched as the man in the Ford Ranger watched the two girls from the truck, which prompted the witness to ask the girls if they knew him. The girls told him they did not.
The witness told police that after about 10 minutes, the unknown man got out of his vehicle, approached the girls and asked if they needed a ride. The witness reported that after the girls said no, the man grabbed one of the girls by the arm and started pulling her toward the pickup. The witness said he then punched the man several times in the face, and the girl was able to break away and they ran off across the street.
JPD spokesman Lt. David Campbell said police are actively working both cases, and are trying to identify the vehicles and follow up on leads.
Police ask that if anyone has information regarding either of the cases to report it to JPD at 586-0600 or report it to the Juneau Crime Line at juneaucrimeline.com. The Crime Line guarantees tipsters’ anonymity and can reward tipsters with cash.