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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Teen Shaken By Abduction Attempt

July 18, 2008

By MARKUS SCHMIDT

PETERSBURG — A teenage girl from Petersburg fought off an unidentified man who attempted to abduct her close to her home Wednesday evening. Police are now looking for the man who was disguised as a pizza delivery driver.

The 17-year-old girl was on her way home with a friend in the 1700 block of Brandon Avenue in the Walnut Hill area at around 8 p.m. According to her mother, who wants to remain anonymous, the girls went separate ways just one block away from the house.

“It had just started to get dark,” she said. “About two houses away from our home, my daughter noticed a white van with a Domino’s sign on top.”

The van slowly drove past her, then turned around in a driveway and came back toward the teenage girl, coming to a stop about 30 feet away from her. The driver got out, leaving the engine running.

“He opened the side door of the van,” the mother said. “My daughter thought he was about to get out the pizza. She didn’t remember that Domino’s doesn’t even deliver to our neighborhood.”

Instead, the stranger, who wore dark sunglasses, walked toward her and suddenly grabbed her by the arm.

“He told my daughter, ‘You are coming with me now and you are getting in that van,’” the mother said. But her daughter wouldn’t have any of that. “She tore loose from his arm, but he grabbed her again. So she decided to fight him. She’s a strong girl.”

During the struggle, the man lost his sunglasses.

“My daughter got a good look of his face, and she also noticed that the van had Florida license plates,” the mother said. When the girl managed to get free again, she immediately ran home, which was about two houses away.

“She was completely terrified and literally collapsed in the hallway,” the mother said. “It took us a while to calm her down, because she was hysterical and cried. My husband then called the police and went outside to look for the man who did this, but he was already gone.”

The mother is now worried that the man could search for other victims.

“It’s obvious that this guy is a predator, who’s specifically looking for young girls. Yesterday, he was in Petersburg, but tomorrow he could be in Colonial Heights or elsewhere,” she said. “I can only advise everybody to be very careful and keep their eyes open, because this man is still out there somewhere.”

Neighbor Marie Holmes, who lives several houses down the block, is also concerned.

“We didn’t see any of that, but after I heard about this abduction attempt, I decided to not let my own daughter out of the house on her own,” she said.

The initial shock for the teenage girl who escaped abduction began to fade away yesterday.

“She’s doing better now,” her mother said. “I think it hasn’t really sunken in yet. But she’s still a little shaken.”

In the future, the teenage girl’s parents want to make sure that she doesn’t go out by herself.

“This neighborhood is supposed to be safe, but you never know,” the mother said. “I even felt a little guilty because I always made sure to never leave my two teenage girls unattended when they are outside. But this time, my daughter and her friend broke the rule that says to never split up.”

Police are still investigating the case and are looking for a white male, about 6 feet 5 inches tall, with a medium build. At the time of the abduction he had dark blond hair and wore a white polo shirt and blue jeans. The girl also noticed his light blue eyes and scrubby beard. The white van has Florida plates.

“We can rule out that the man was working for any Domino’s Pizza in the region,” police spokeswoman Esther Hyatt said. “And none of them reported a sign stolen.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Petersburg Crime Solvers at 861-1212.

– Markus Schmidt may be reached at 722-5172 or mschmidt@progress- index.com.

Originally published by STAFF WRITER.

(c) 2008 Progress-Index, The Petersburg, Va.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.