Authorities in northeastern Ohio are looking to find a suspected serial child abductor who is wanted in connection with the kidnapping of a 6-year-old Cleveland girl in May and the attempted abduction of a 10-year-old girl in February.
The case which has left federal investigators baffled has had more than 200 cops and federal agents, working on it.
Authorities have just released a surveillance video of the suspected kidnapper that shows his face, driving a distinctive car. The suspect’s profile has been posted on social media and highway billboards nationwide with hopes someone would recognize him. So far, the 325 tips have led nowhere.
video of suspect and his car
The dragnet has now been spread all through Northeast Ohio , with FBI hoping members of the public would recognize the suspect. To enhance prospects of an arrest, feds are specifically re-directing their efforts in Lorain County, where the first known attempted abduction occurred on February 25, this year.
“We’re wondering if we’re just targeting the right audience,” FBI spokeswoman Kelly Liberti said. “When we went out to North Ridgeville to see if there was a connection with an attempted abduction out there, they had no idea what we were talking about.”
For the first time on Thursday, the FBI acknowledged that the 6-year-old girl was violently assaulted by her abductor during the 17 hours he held her in his room at an unknown location.
FBI spokesperson Vicki Anderson said investigators are baffled they are yet to obtain workable tips that will help track down the suspect in this case.
“Someone knows him,” Liberti said. “Someone was in the house with the girl.”
Speaking about the suspect’s vehicle, Anderson said they’ve had some difficulty nailing down a specific year for the Chevy Malibu that he drove to the Cleveland abduction. Working with Chevy engineers, investigators have narrowed the model year down to a 2002 or 2003 model. They know it’s a dark colored car, but don’t know the exact color because it isn’t clear in the surveillance video. The car which has an after-market spoiler on the back, also has a distinctive lighter colored panel on the front driver’s side.
The hunt is on to ascertain if a chop shop or area salvage yards demolished a car fitting that description, noting that they’ve combed hours of surveillance video from the surrounding neighborhoods for the days before and after each abduction, hoping to catch a glimpse of the car without success.
A composite sketch of the man that was released was too vague to be helpful, in some cases, has drawn investigators into wasting chases after tips generated from the sketch.
“The sketch looks like half the guys in Ohio,” Anderson said.
However, they’ve spread the photos across the country, including Louisville, Detroit, Indianapolis and Buffalo to no avail. What the FBI does know is that he’s a violent predator.
“He’s a bad, bad guy,” Anderson added.
On Feb. 24, the suspect went into the home of 10-year-old Elyria and unlocked several doors and windows. The next day, he opened the girl’s bedroom window, grabbed her legs and tried to pull her outside. She fought the man off and ran to her father’s bedroom for help.
A week later, he abducted a 6-year-old Cleveland girl. He was seen walking near the girl’s home May 14, 15 and 20. In the early morning hours of May 21, he parked across the street, went into her home and snatched her as she slept.
The man allegedly, ran back across the street to his car and drove to a home in an unknown location. The victim described the bedroom where she was held as having pictures of a deer on the walls. She also heard a woman’s voice ask her abductor if the man wanted anything to eat. Anderson said they do not believe that woman knew the abducted girl was inside the home.
17 hours later, the man dropped the girl off later at an intersection. She walked up to a nearby home and rang the doorbell. The residents recognized her from media reports and called police.
Expressing concern by feds of the possibility of more victims in the future if they don’t stop the kidnapper, Liberti said : “Whoever he is, he’s very dangerous” . “And he’s dangerous to anyone with a child.”
The FBI is asking anyone with knowledge of the incident, or can help identify the man, to call their tip line at 216-622-6824.