Commonwealth Journal

October 9, 2012

Sheriff looking into report of child predator in Science Hill area

By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal

Science Hill —  

Members of the Science Hill community have been warned of a potential threat to their children, though authorities have no suspects as of yet.

Sheriff Todd Wood told the Commonwealth Journal on Tuesday that his agency had received a call on Sunday evening regarding a suspicious incident in the Heaton Ford area of Science Hill in northern Pulaski County.

The report was about a black car, likely older model, with one male subject in it, in his late 20s or early 30s, white, and “possibly with light facial hair,” according to Wood.

The individual allegedly pulled up to where a group of kids in the area were playing outside, and engaged them in conversation, said Wood. The individual allegedly made inappropriate gestures and even offered money for the youth to take off the shorts or pants they were wearing.

The children in question were around 7 to 9 years old, said Wood.

The Commonwealth Journal caught wind of the complaints on Monday and contacted the sheriff’s department on that day, but were told no information was available. On Tuesday, however, Wood was able to provide details to the media.

Wood noted that he’d also been informed a similar incident had occurred two or three days earlier in the same general area with a similar car.

“We take this information very, very seriously,” said Wood. “It’s very suspicious in nature. If anyone is approaching children, it’s a very inappropriate thing.”

Though there are no suspects yet given the limited amount of evidence available, Wood did notify the people in the neighborhood of the concern and requested they pass information along to their friends and neighbors.

“Even though we do frequent drive-throughs, the people who live there full-time are helping with that (passing along information),” said Wood.

He noted that there’s no indication the subject has made any attempt to grab the children or to lure them into the car, and that the children have responded well.

“We always talk to our children — every parent talks to their children — about not approaching strangers, or when a stranger approaches you to not go up to them or stay a safe distance away,” said Wood. “We believe (the children) did that.

He also advised for children to stay  in groups if they’re playing outside unsupervised. “It’s important to stay together.”