UPDATED: Police unable to substantiate Facebook posts on attempted kidnapping

Stock image, St. George News

Update April 21, 11:15 a.m. The St. George Police Department issued a statement on Facebook Friday mid-morning regarding this incident saying they were ultimately able to contact the woman who made the original post.

“The mother clarified her post for us and said it was not an actual grabbing or kidnapping attempt,” the police post stated. “She said the situation was uncomfortable enough it caused her to realize how easily such a thing could happen. This inspired her to warn other moms about the importance of watching your children in public places. She recognized that her words may have caused more concern than she wanted and didn’t convey the exact message she was trying to relay.”

ST. GEORGE – A Facebook post made Monday to a closed group has been widely shared alleging an attempted child snatching in St. George generating concern in the community, an allegation that police have said repeatedly since Wednesday appears to be unfounded.

This Facebook post, forwarded to St. George News, has been widely shared and is causing alarm especially among mothers of small children in the St. George area. St. George Police say the incident was never reported. The person posting it was contacted via a member of the Facebook group on behalf of St. George News and declined to comment. Her last name and the name of her minor child have been redacted for privacy and safety considerations. | St. George News

The incident started late Monday night when a woman posted on Facebook that her child “was almost taken” from her at the Town Square Park splash pad.

The post originated on the South Mountain Community Church’s SMCC St. George MOPS Facebook group, a closed group that “exists to connect a community of women who meet together to embrace the journey of motherhood.”

The post was shared and spread quickly on Facebook among friends and also on local “mom” groups as a warning, subsequently causing considerable alarm among community members, especially young mothers.

The post stated that a man attempted to grab the woman’s child but was unsuccessful and that she had contacted the police.

However, St. George Police Officer Lona Trombley, who serves as a spokeswoman for the department, said they have not received any reports of the incident.

An exhaustive search of police records and discussions with supervisors turned up no suspicious incidents at the Town Square splash pads this week, Trombley said.

“We did not get a report of this into our Police Department of this incident happening at these splash pads.”

Since the Facebook group where the post originally appeared is a closed group, St. George News contacted South Mountain Community Church and spoke with Pastor Thomas Mertz, who said that he knows and trusts the woman who put up the post but that he didn’t have any personal knowledge of the incident.

Another representative of the church who asked not to be named confirmed the post is a current post and told St. George News that the woman was out of town dealing with a family emergency and didn’t want to speak to the press. The representative said the woman was overwhelmed by the response to the post and never intended it to go beyond the closed Facebook group, adding that she said she called dispatch to report the incident anonymously.

This would seem to be supported by a followup post from the woman giving additional details on the potential kidnapper. In the post, she said the man was “tall (close to 6ft), skinny, medium short black hair parted down the middle kind of messy, white button up, black slacks and black tennis shoes.”

She ended the post by saying: “you are welcome to share this post but please leave my photo and name out of the tag I want to bring attention to the situation and not to myself or family.”

The original post with her name had already been shared beyond the closed group.

Trombley said she does not recall any attempted kidnappings at any of the St. George splash pads, but she added that if it did happen, it would be a big deal.

The media would be notified immediately, Trombley said, “so that we could get more eyes and ears out there, so people, if they knew anything, could come and tell us.”

The Town Square Park splash pad is so busy that if an incident did happen, police would want to inform the public immediately.

“There would be a lot of people who were witnesses that might not have realized that they had witnessed something,” Trombley said.

While the police have been unable to substantiate the splash pad story, Trombley said it does pay to be cautious. She said:

Anytime you take your child out into a public place, you should always be vigilant, because while most people are there to do the right thing, unfortunately there are people who are there for the wrong reasons and to cause harm. So just don’t give those people opportunities.

Multiple attempts were made by St. George News to contact the woman who originally posted the information about the alleged kidnapping attempt. However, she could not be reached for comment.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • comments April 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Possibly a chronic story-teller (liar) and pathological attention seeker? I wish a lot of these women would stay away from daytime TV that basically tells them ‘every man is a predator and potential pedophile’. I tell u what, because of this sort of thing, if I saw some little 2 or 3 years old wandering out into traffic or something I might have second thoughts about even trying to do anything. Imagine u run out into the road and pull the kid out of the path of some pickup doing 50mph or something, and save the kid’s life, and next thing u know u got the mom yelling “PEDOPHILE PEDOPHILE, that man is trying to kidnap my baby!!” etc etc, u get the idea. Fact is all this daytime TV has made females paranoid, and I’m gonna stay way away as far as I can, to the point if someone actually does need help… it’s likely aint no one gonna be there. And these delusional, lying, pathological attention-seeking women can just do their thing all day for all I care. I aint even on FB. lol

  • comments April 21, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Just wanted to add: if there was an actual attempted abduction reported it would rile up all these cops and they’d be out hunting the perp real aggressive-like. Only time child predators get the ok from the law is when they are f-LDS mormons, then they can victimize children to their hearts content and Utah is ok with it and ignores it.

    • comments April 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Oh, and it would also be on TV and what not. everyone would go nuts

  • Proud Rebel April 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Sounds like mama here is a real ditz. smh

  • and April 21, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    So, she made the incident up? What was the point? Attention?

  • whatever April 21, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Another ‘mommy blogger’ craves attention–and she got it. Good job St George PD.

  • DirtyHippyTevas April 26, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I saw this on Facebook the other day and my initial thought was “this sounds 100% bogus”. The short term damage of this woman ‘crying wolf’ is it scares parents into thinking a monster is out there. The long term damage is that it adds to the bigger problem of society assuming men are more likely to be a danger to children than women.

    A recent study from the UK shows men won’t volunteer for the Boy Scouts because they’re afraid of being labeled a pedophile (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/men-wont-volunteer-to-help-the-scouts-for-one-depressing-reason/) . That’s a problem not only for our young men, but for all of us.

    Right here in St. George the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program has a 1 year waiting list for boys wanting to matched with “older brothers”. They can’t get men to sign up. It’s really sad how modern society has damaged the role men should play in mentoring our youth. We need to stop jumping to conclusions and believing every unfounded accusation.

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