A suspected child abductor pursued one of three 11-year-old Irmo boys through a parking lot and cursed him for not getting into the car – behavior that makes one mother and police uneasy about the woman’s growing aggression.
“It’s getting more aggressive,” Kristin Kibbe, 39, said Thursday of the behavior shown by a woman whom police say tried to abduct three young boys during the past week, including Kibbe’s 11-year-old son, James.
“We’re taking this threat to the children very seriously,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. “We’re coordinating with Irmo PD and Lexington County, and we’re increasing (law enforcement) visibility.”
Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said, “This case is very concerning to us because we know people are alarmed and the incidents have been reported very close to our jurisdiction. We’ll continue to give it our full attention.”
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Irmo police Thursday released composite sketches of the woman.
The kidnapping attempts also have prompted Kibbe and other neighborhood mothers to use social media to communicate better about where their kids are and who they are with.
Less than a week after the abduction attempt of Kibbe’s son, another 11-year-old boy described a similar but more assertive encounter while he was walking home from school Tuesday.
A woman in a red sedan stopped him in the parking lot of Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church on St. Andrews Road and “attempted to lure him into her car,” according to a police report.
When he said no, she followed him through the parking lot in her car and told him to “get in the goddamn car,” the report states. She left after the exchange, police said.
Around the same time Tuesday, the parents of another 11-year-old boy reported that he was approached by a woman matching a similar description on the 7000 block of St. Andrews Road as he walked home from school.
The suspect “engaged the victim by telling him to get into her car, and that she would give him a ride home,” the report states.
The two kidnapping attempts this week happened along busy St. Andrews Road not far from Murraywood Centre and Irmo High School. That area is much more heavily traveled than the residential Friarsgate Boulevard area where the first encounter happened.
“It’s been almost a week, so she must be getting a little more aggressive and desperate to be chasing somebody and talking like that,” Kibbe said of the woman, who wore white medical scrubs.
“She wasn’t aggressive like that (with James),” the worried mother said. “He said she was really nice. He just didn’t know her and said there was no way he was getting in her car.”
James was leaving a friend’s house down the road from his home around 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 when the woman in a red car approached him, his mother said.
Though the incident was disturbing, Kibbe said she, her son and his friends feel safe in their New Friarsgate subdivision.
“They ride their bikes around the block and everything,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was right down the street from our house.”
Irmo police say the boys described the suspect as a white woman driving a red sedan, possibly a Hyundai. She was wearing white scrubs typically worn by medical or veterinary personnel. Kibbe’s son said the scrubs had brown teddy bears on them, and one of the boys on Tuesday told officers the scrubs were emblazoned with flowers.
Kibbe posted about the incident on Nextdoor, a social media network that allows people in certain neighborhoods to stay in touch about what’s happening in their area. She still allows James to go play with friends in the neighborhood but stays in close contact with the other children’s mothers.
“I call them and say, ‘OK, he’s leaving my house now,’” Kibbe said. If they go to another friend’s house, he has to call her and let her know. “They don’t go that far – it’s just around the block,” she said. “But, obviously, it can still happen right around the block.”
Protecting your child from abductions
Here are some tips from KidsHealth, a website for information about health, behavior and development of children through the teen years.
▪ Have ID-like photos taken of your kids every six months and have them fingerprinted.
▪ Keep your kids’ medical and dental records up to date.
▪ Set boundaries about the places your kids go. Supervise them in places like malls, movie theaters, parks or public bathrooms.
▪ Never leave kids alone in a car or stroller, even for a minute.
▪ Be aware of your kids’ Internet activities and chat-room “friends.” Remind them never to give out personal information. Avoid posting identifying information or photos of your kids online.
▪ Choose caregivers carefully and check their references. If you’ve arranged for someone to pick up your kids from school or day care, discuss the arrangements beforehand with your kids and with the school or childcare center.
▪ Avoid dressing your kids in clothing with their names on it — children tend to trust adults who know their names.