Child approached in backyard, police respond

A six-year-old girl was approached by a stranger in her own backyard Monday night and her parents say a woman tried to get the child to leave with her.

It happened at a home on Anderson Road in St. Joseph County.

Police said they are not looking into this incident as an attempted abduction because there was no coercion reported to them when they responded to the home.

News of the incident quickly spread through Facebook after the mom posted about it on her own profile.

Newscenter 16 spoke to the mother Tuesday and she insists that an unknown woman tried to lure her daughter away from their home.

St. Joseph County Police were out in their neighborhood Monday night but said there was not enough information to prove the stranger had criminal intent.

The mother wanted to share her story but asked Newscenter 16 not to identify her.

She said sending her daughter to school was tough Tuesday morning.

“Being mom, I was kind of nervous to let her out of my hands and go to school,” she said.

The family is still rattled from Monday’s event.

Her husband and six-year-old daughter had spent a few hours playing in their backyard. The dad had to go inside the home to check on the younger kids who had woken up from a nap.

During the few minutes he spent inside a stranger crept onto their property, the mother said.

"The lady that stopped...she had come all the way into my yard and was talking to Lauren." the mother said. "She patted her on the head and told her you shouldn't be outside playing by yourself and asked her to go with her."

The little girl described seeing a white woman with “yellow hair” riding in a white van.

Her parents called police after hearing their daughter’s account.

“We had multiple crews in the area who were out talking to folks, looking around,” said Chief William Thompson, from St. Joseph County Police. “We found no indication of anything similar nor did we find any trace of the van.”

The effect this encounter had on the child was clear to see, according to her parents.

“She was scared to death,” her mother said. “She was like ‘She asked me to go with her, I told her I didn’t want to so I ran inside.”

But, police said there was no mention of the woman trying to lure the girl away.

“We also understand how parents can be upset, this can be a potentially very upsetting thing for them,” Thompson said. “We also know that social media has a tendency to catch fire a little bit in these instances. Folks have legitimate concerns.”

A letter was also sent home with students that attend this little girl’s school to let parents know about the incident and encourage them to be vigilant.

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