Suspects arrested after girl flees from kidnappers

Click to follow
The Independent US

Police in Philadelphia have arrested two men believed to have been involved in the kidnapping of a seven-year-old girl who later made a daring escape.

Police in Philadelphia have arrested two men believed to have been involved in the kidnapping of a seven-year-old girl who later made a daring escape.

The two men, identified as James Burns, 29, and Edward Johnson, 23, were captured by police shortly before dawn yesterday as they were apparently preparing to flee the city. Officials said others might have been involved in the abduction and would be arrested.

Erica Pratt was snatched on Monday evening while playing with friends in front of her grandmother's terraced house.

Her disappearance stoked fears that America was about to witness another distressing child abduction. There have been two high-profile cases in Utah and in California recently.

The motive was money, police said. The grandmother received a $150,000 ransom demand, apparently based on rumours that the family had come into money related either to the life-insurance policy of an uncle who was shot dead in March or the dealings of another uncle who owns a small record label. The family insists there is no such hidden fortune.

The plot fell apart on Tuesday when the girl bit through duct tape and escaped from the basement of the building where she was being held 10 miles from her home. She broke through the basement door and then smashed a ground floor window. She called to children playing outside who pulled her out. Another child then cycled to alert the police.

"She's an amazing little girl," said Robert Davis, Chief Inspector of the Philadelphia Police Department. Last night, Erica was back at the home of her grandmother, who is raising her, and was said to be fine.

A tip from a member of the public led to the arrests. Police spotted the two suspects at about 5.30am as they were preparing to head south out of the city. The pair bolted on foot but were apprehended when the officers caught up with them. "We could have missed them by five minutes," said Lieutenant David Byrne.

Comments