December 22, 2014

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Police report no new leads in Splash Pad kidnap attempt

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The investigation into an attempted abduction of a young boy from South Central Park remains open, but police have not been able to gather any new information in the case.

“We have interviewed five to six people who came forward since the initial report was made, but we have been unable to verify the information first reported to us,” North Ridgeville police Lt. Vince Abt said. “No one has reported seeing anyone who matched the description (of the supposed suspect) given by the woman involved.”

A woman told police that a middle-aged white male tried to walk away from the park’s popular Splash Pad water play area with her 4-year-old grandson about 2:30 p.m. Aug. 4. The woman claimed the man then shoved the boy away and ran on foot toward Bainbridge Road moments later. The child was unharmed.

A number of patrolmen and detectives rushed to the park but did not find anyone matching the description of the suspect given by the woman. The police station is across from the park on Bainbridge Road in the city’s municipal government complex.

Police have also studied video footage from security cameras located at various points in the park, including one mounted near bathrooms close to the Splash Pad area.

“They didn’t help us in locating anyone, either,” Abt said.

The park had an estimated 50 to 100 people in it at the time of the alleged incident, police said.

Most were there with children attending day camp activities and other programs, according to parks director Kevin Fougerousse, who said hundreds of people can frequent the park on a given day.

Abt said police are aware of recent postings on various websites from people who are saying the attempted abduction of the child was a hoax.

“We know about them, but people are drawing the wrong conclusion,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, this is still an active and open investigation. We can’t say it did not happen. We just have not found anybody who can verify to us that it happened.”

Police are still asking that anyone with any information about the incident should contact the department at (440) 327-2191.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-1746 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.