WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Police say a man kidnapped three children in two separate incidents near Clark Elementary School in the past 24 hours. Police say the children are safe, and an alleged suspect is in custody.
On Wednesday afternoon, a girl in her early teens reported she had been kidnapped as she was walking home from school around 3:50 p.m. She told police a man driving a blue vehicle in the 6600 block of E Boston, near Boston Park, forced her into the vehicle and tried to sexually assault her, then let her go. The girl told a family member, and the police were called.
Just before 9 a.m. Thursday, police got the report of another kidnapping. Two elementary students, a boy and a girl, left their home on foot on South Drury. A man in a blue vehicle kidnapped them. A short time later, he dropped off the boy but kept the girl. When the 7-year-old boy got to school, the boy reported it.
“A young student, a male student, showed up at school, rather frantic, and reported to administrators at school that his sister and he had gotten into a vehicle, and that she was not dropped off,” USD 259 Director of Safety and Environmental Services Terri Moses said.
Police say the man released the girl a short time later.
Police officers say the 7-year-old boy helped them locate the alleged suspect and vehicle near Harry and Woodlawn. It turned into a foot pursuit of a suspect. Police say they arrested the man without further incident in the 6600 block of East Boston.
Neighbors say it’s scary that something like this happened near them.
“I moved over here because I thought it was pretty safe, school right across the street,” Heaven White said.
Janna Palmer is spreading the word.
“Making sure that all of the neighbors know the situation, so we can all be more aware,” Palmer said.
Moses encourages parents to have conversations with their children about what to do if they feel uncomfortable or are in a similar situation:
“When we talk to children, we want to talk about behavior, not just strangers, and the fact that somebody driving down the road, it would be unusual and inappropriate for somebody you don’t know to offer you a ride.”
WPD is still investigating. They are also looking into whether Ward has any previous arrests or convictions.
During a news conference Thursday morning, police were asked about the condition of the children.
“This kind of situation is going to be extremely traumatizing,” Officer Chad Ditch, WPD spokesperson, said. “The children are physically safe.”
Ditch would not say what charges the man could face. He said that would depend on what is learned during the continuing investigation.
Watch the full news conference below: