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Man Tries to Abduct Girl From Parked Car

Posted March 18, 2008
Updated March 19, 2008

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— A mother said a man tried to abduct her 9-year-old daughter from the car she had parked in front of a Dollar General store in Johnston County.

Pauline Williams said Tuesday that she had left her daughter, Imani, in her car at the curb in front of the store, near Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 210. Williams dashed into the store for hand soap, never considering the potential danger, she said.

Imani said she locked the doors and then saw a man at the driver's side window. The man told her to "open the door" and that he was "a nice man," Imani said.

The man then came to the passenger side, where she was sitting, and banged on her window.

"He was jerking on the handle, and he said, 'Open the door before I kill you,'" Imani said. "I was scared, very scared."

Imani said the man finally gave up, ran to a sport-utility vehicle and took off. She ran into the store for help.

Williams said she had been in the store for only a few minutes when her daughter told her, "'Mama, a man tried to get me.'"

"I was terrified," Williams said. "Then I was just more greatly appreciative to know that my daughter was still with me, because, I mean, just the thought."

Deputies described the suspect as a 30-year-old white man, about 6 feet tall with a medium build. He had blond hair and facial hair. The Johnson County Sheriff's Office said it has no other leads in the case.

Under North Carolina law, it is not illegal leave an older child unattended in a car.

Williams said she is proud of her daughter's ability to take care of herself, but she learned a valuable lesson.

"It was more like a wake-up call. ... I don't ever want to do that again," Williams said. "If you think about it, hand soap is worth $2, versus her life."

87 Comments

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  • Miaitaliana Mar 19, 2008

    LEAVE RACE, AND BAD PARENTING OUT OF THIS! BE THANKFUL THE GIRL IS OK AND PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN. MAKE SURE THEY ARE AWARE OF DANGERS AND DO WHAT YOU CAN TO AVOID SITUATIONS LIKE THIS. IT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ANYONE ANYONE, EVEN TO THE BEST PARENTS ON THE PLANET.

  • fatty Mar 19, 2008

    There is a complete lack of common sense on the part of many parents today. Yes, I used to roam free unattended when I was little and always had to stay in the car while my mother went shopping. But that was a different time. Maybe it was also dangerous back then but at least mothers were blissfully ignorant. How could mothers be blissfully ignorant today?

  • PCguy Mar 19, 2008

    There is no parking directly in front of that store. There are usually open spots right at the front of the lot, at least every time I've been through there. It's not like you have to walk far.

    Don't most retail outlets have CAMERAS pointed at the door so as to get a good look at people's faces entering the store? Possibly through the window even?

    By some of the reactions here, it might lead one to believe that some people don't teach their children that there are bad people out there. By 9 years old, if they don't know to keep the doors locked when alone in the car, something is very wrong. Kudos to the mom for that.

    On the other hand why WAS she parking in the fire lane? I don't understand why police don't charge people for that. Can't tell you how many times I've walked out of a store and had to squeeze by a car parked directly in front of the door. If you do that, and the timing is right, I have an itch, have to tie my shoe... Inconvenient I know =)

  • baracus Mar 19, 2008

    food4thought, I would agree with you that people are overreacting in calling the mother negligent, lazy, etc. Kids today are coddled and protected more than any other previous generation. My mother was not a member of the "Me generation" and we got left in the car on occasion. And my parents' parents would definitely have been locked away for what they did. My dad and his friends were taking unchaperoned trips on the NY subway to the Bronx and Staten Island by this girl's age!

  • lizard Mar 19, 2008

    T bet it was her father or someone the mom owed money to. If it's true at all.

  • raysson Mar 19, 2008

    This girl did the right thing and it could happen anytime and anywhere. There are a lot of perverts out there who take advantage of children,and this brave but smart 9-year old must have been taught at an early age about taking bewareness of your surroundings. A wake-up call for any parent and any child.

  • Blackbeard Mar 19, 2008

    "I'm appalled that we even are questioning if this story is true or not. Grant every detail may not be exact, and they're are children out there who crave attention, but some things I believe are better left undisputed. I certainly wouldn't want it on myself the fact that I had doubted my child about something this serious, and then it actually happen. We try to teach our children to tell us the truth, especially when there is danger present, and then we turn around and question the honestly of a child we don't know, in a situation we didn't witness. I find that sad."

    btruds, the problem is NOBODY witnessed this. In a public parking lot, in broad daylight, right in front of the store. Of course it's fishy!

    Yes, 9-year-olds lie. Mark my words, we'll be hearing in a day or two that this was a hoax.

    And if you really think it's better to leave this sort of testimony undisputed, then I hope you're never wrongly accused of something.

  • food4thought Mar 19, 2008

    We agree that the mom shouldn't have parked her car illegally... but ironically, it may have saved the girl in this instance. If the mom had parked in a regular parking spot, the alleged abductor may have had a better chance at getting into the car since it was away from the front of the store and more discreet. As a result of parking the car in front of the store, the abductor was limited in what he could do to get the girl out of the car without drawing too much attention to himself.

    Secondly, we shouldn't be blaming the mom for this incident but the abductor. I used to walk 1.5 miles to school when I was in elementary school.. by myself.. in a city. It is just a shame that the world has gotten to the point that a mom leaving her 9 year old daughter by herself in a car right in front of the store is seen as child negligence! Let's not blame the mom for this act.. we need to teach our kids how to protect themselves.. which this girl knew how since she locked the door.

  • onehandclapping Mar 19, 2008

    I regularly shop at 3 different Dollar General stores, 2 in Goldsboro and one in Kinston. All three of them have parking spaces in front of the store at the curb, not a fire lane. Not being familiar with this particular store I can't say if being parked "at the curb" is a problem or not.

  • food4thought Mar 19, 2008

    polar3: The better question here is why was this woman going to pay $2 for soap at the dollar store..

    See previous posts but she was at Dollar General vs. Dollar store. Dollar General has items in the store that are more than $1.

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