Man dressed like a police officer tries to abduct teen
SYRACUSE, IN – After the second day of school a 8th grade girl says someone tried to abduct her on just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Gianna Harshaw said, “There is no doubt about it, he wasn’t going to let me go!”
The 14-year-old was on her way to meet her aunt at the convenience store just up the street from her house.
It’s a short walk, but at the half way point she noticed a man driving circles around her a green pickup truck.
“He wouldn’t take his eyes off me,” Harshaw said.
The 14-year-old knew something was not right, so she sped up as she approached the Noble Stores on Turkey Creek Road. But as she got to the edge of the parking lot, she said the truck whipped in front of her, blocking her path into the store.
“He asked me to come with him to church, and I wouldn’t go…” Harshaw said, “I stayed right here in the exact spot I’m at,” as she stood on top of the curb.
She said the white male was in his late 30s - 40s, with short brown hair and was wearing a black polo with a big badge on it that had ‘K-9 Unit’ printed at the top.
“He told me I looked like I was hurting and I needed someone to talk to,” Harshaw said, “…And I didn’t know what he was talking about.”
The man in the truck was dressed like a police officer, but he told Harshaw he was with a nearby church and he wanted her to come to his youth group.
“He was doing that to act like a police officer then he thought maybe he gain more trust from the kids so they would get in the vehicle with him.” The girl’s aunt, Betsy Meredith said.
Meredith pulled into the parking lot to meet her niece; as soon as she saw the pickup truck parked in front of Harshaw she was suspicious.
Meredith honked her horn to get Harshaw’s attention, but the girl was still too afraid to move. The 8th grader brought her hand up to her face and mouthed ‘HELP!’
That’s when the man sped off in the truck and the girl ran to her aunt’s car, “She was scared and she was shaking and I’ve never seen her like that,” Meredith said.
Meredith drove Harshaw back home and her mother, Liana Johnson called 9-1-1 right away.
“There is somebody out there using the youth group as a tool to get kids into their car and so it’s just really scary,” Johnson said.
The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department checked with the churches in the area, all said they would no approach a child in this manner.
“Obviously that’s not how a church works or what is normally done,” Sgt. Chad Hill said.
Police are still looking for the man and the truck.
“It’s very scary to think that I could not have my daughter today,” Johnson said.
Harshaw is safe but her mother and aunt agree, this incident has scarred her, “I just want to cry because I’m so scared that she won’t do the things she did before,” Meredith said.
The 8th grader refuses to be alone now, still afraid of the man in the green truck. “I haven’t been able to sleep very good,” Harshaw said. “It’s been terrifying every time I go to sleep I have nightmares about it.”