UPDATE: Police exhaust all leads in possible abduction case

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South Bend Police have hit a dead-end in their investigation of a recent reported abduction.

It began Thursday afternoon, when a group of children told police that they witnessed a child in an alley being led away against her will.

Since then, there have been no reports of missing children, and police haven't been contacted by anyone who may have been involved in the incident.

According to SBPD Captain Phil Trent, "No more information has come to light, and the kids involved have varied stories to tell."

With all possible leads exhausted, police plan to wait and see if any more information comes to light.

"You have to start thinking of alternatives," Trent said. "What might have happened? Was this child encountered by a care giver and simply taken home or wherever she belonged? Scenarios like that. It's not a secret. That was kicked around at the very beginning from observers at the scene down through officers."



Police exhaust all leads in possible abduction case

South Bend Police haven't received any new information or missing person reports regarding yesterday's possible abduction.

"It's frustrating," admits Captain Phil Trent. "It's obviously frustrating for the community and they're continuing to pass information through social media and calling with tips. We're following up on all of those tips but when it doesn't bear any fruit, it's obviously frustrating for everyone."

Captain Trent says it's highly unusual to not have a missing persons case on a child after 24 hours.

"You have to start thinking of alternatives," Trent said. "What might have happened? Was this child encountered by a care giver and simply taken home or wherever she belonged? Scenarios like that. It's not a secret. That was kicked around at the very beginning from observers at the scene down through officers."

Social media has had a role in this case as well, often a negative role. Reports of a name of the abducted girl's mother was floated out onto social media and it became truth immediately without any fact checking. However, Captain Trent says they have investigated this potential name and deemed it to have no connection to the case.

Thursday, dozens of officers flocked to the area near Kennedy Park to investigate the possible abduction. The showing was impressive and Capt. Trent says mobilizing officers for an event like an abduction is important.

While many things fall under the "Missing Person" umbrella, it's a matter of urgency when police choose to mobilize. In the case of the abduction, it was in the best interest of the police to mobilize immediately to give them the best opportunity to catch a suspect and hopefully a victim.

"I feel we were fairly successful at getting man power there quickly," Trent said. "It was a fruitless effort ultimately but what you saw was a quick mobilization of dozens of officers."

In other cases, like a runaway case, there is less urgency in the matter. There was a lot of chatter on the WNDU Facebook page about a missing teenage girl in Michiana and criticism of how the police handled this case. This girl was deemed a "runaway" and the South Bend Police do not believe she's in any immediate danger.

"In any runaway case, there can be an argument made that the runaway is endangered in some way. But through our investigation, two detectives working the case yesterday came up with their conclusion that she appears to be merely a runaway and not in any particular danger, based on the actual investigation," Trent explained.

The police also decided not to issue an Amber Alert for the abduction case.

"Amber Alerts are something we don't take lightly because we don't want to overuse it," Trent said. "It is only used under dire circumstances when there's a threat of bodily injury or death. That's why we don't issue an Amber Alert when a teen or adult has gone missing. In the sense that they've taken off on their own volition and decided they want to take a break or get away. There's big differences."

Original story:


South Bend Police continue to search a west side neighborhood after they were told a young girl was taken by a black man with a gray beard.

The alleged abduction happened near Kennedy Park and Kennedy School just after 1 p.m. Thursday

Dozens of officers set up a roughly 3-block perimeter in all directions near Meade and Prast.

A group of children told police that they witnessed a child in an alley being led away against her will. Officers went door to door to speak with neighbors.

The girl is described as a white or Hispanic girl, 7 or 8 years old, with dark, curly hair with blond streaks. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt, jean shorts and sparkly sandals.

The suspect is described as a tall black male with gray facial hair. He was wearing a black shirt and jeans.

Police have exhausted all current leads and have not received any missing person reports in the city, making the investigation extremely difficult. Leaving the adults to just have the children's account of what happened Thursday afternoon.

"We've heard everything from your classic kidnapping scenario all the way to someone walking down the street leading the child and she was asking for help," Capt. Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Dept. said. "If you talk to 10 witnesses, you're going to get 10 variations of the story. That's unfortunately what we have to wade through."

Dion and Jennifer Collins happened to be on the west side this afternoon, picking up a Power Wheels car. They heard the kids screaming for help. They ran to try and help and called 911.

"By the time we made it around the corner to them looking for the gentleman who took the little girl, and trying to figure out what was going on, you could see the shock in their face," Jennifer Collins, who called 911 said. "The innocence was gone. They couldn't believe what happened. By looking at the children, I wholeheartedly believed what they said. Just because of their face. Their facial expressions were not the same two minutes prior."

"Even if it was the kids seeing something wrong or it was a parent grabbing their kid and taking them home, someone needs to come forward and say it was me grabbing my child," Dion Collins said. "Until then, I feel there's a child missing. Someone has to come forward."

Police say that if you know anything or have seen anything, it's best to call 911 right away so that they can get this information as soon as possible.

As of 11:30 p.m., an Amber Alert hasn't been issued. According to South Bend Police Captain Phil Trent, they don't have enough information yet.