Local News

Authorities Continue To Follow Leads In Attempted Kidnapping At School

Posted May 9, 2002

— Chapel Hill police are following several leads that they hope will lead to a man suspected of trying to kidnap a female student at

Frank Porter Graham Elementary School


Authorities and parents patroled the campus at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School a day after a man attempted to kidnap a student. Crisis counselors were also at the school on Thursday to talk with students.

School leaders say they are trying to make students feel comfortable and safe while going to class.

"Our top priority is to make the day as normal as possible; to keep account of everyone and make sure kids are with adults," principal Dr. Stephen Greene said. "We have an open campus and it is a little different. We are not a one-school building."

Authorities have released a


of the man they believe attempted to kidnap a fifth-grader Wednesday afternoon at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School.

Chapel Hill police say the man is in his 20 or 30s with a thin, muscular build, between 5'5" and 5'9". He has dark, short, military-style hair and smells of cigarette smoke, according to officials, who also believe he has scrapes on his hands from falling while trying to run away. When he was last seen, he was wearing tan shorts, a green plaid shirt, with a gray or tan T-shirt underneath.

Authorities are e-mailing the suspect's composite to businesses in the community and community watch groups.

Officials say that at approximately 1:30 p.m., the suspect grabbed a fifth-grade student who was on crutches while she was walking from the cafeteria to the classroom building at school.

School officials said the suspect came up from behind her, put his hand over her mouth and attempted to take her away.

Another student saw the incident and started screaming, which got the attention of a teacher inside the school, who started banging on her window.

After hearing the noises, the suspect ran back into the woods and started removing his clothes.

Police responded and surrounded the area. A search, including the use of a police dog, was conducted.

School officials locked down the school on 101 Smith Level Road in Chapel Hill and later released the students class-by-class to their school buses. Officials also said that the student who was nearly abducted is doing fine.

Yolanda Alston, whose daughter, Chelsea, attends the school, said she was impressed with how school officials and authorities handled the situation.

"I was here for Teacher Appreciation Day and what better day to find out how good they are with the kids," she said.

Alston said that several parents have asked school officials to put up a fence around the school, explaining that there have been a number of petty crimes in the area.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools spokeswoman Kim Hoke said she was not aware of any such request.

"I am not aware of that concern. It could have been submitted to another division in the school district," she said.

A school goverance meeting has been scheduled for Monday evening, where school safety is expected to be addressed.

A letter detailing the incident was sent home Wednesday by students to parents.

Anyone with information about the incident or the suspect is asked to call the Chapel Hill Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 968-2870 or 226-CRIME.


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