March 4, 2011

Attempted Stranger Abduction Leaves Hugo Residents Wary - as reported by the Citizen Newspaper

The following article was in this week's edition of The Citizen

By Carrie Reed
Contributing Writer, The Citizen

HUGO - Water’s Edge residents have been keeping a close eye on their children since a child on her way to school was approached by a stranger at the intersection of 149th St. N. and Farnham Ave. N. last week.

Staff  at the neighborhood’s Community Center staff  sent out e-mails to area residents and posted flyers throughout the area last Thursday. “BEWARE Attempted Abduction,” the e-mails were headlined. According to the flyer, a middle-school student was approached on her way to the bus stop by a man driving a “red-and-white Bronco-style” vehicle at approximately 7:20 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

Despite the neighborhood alert earlier in the week, details of the incident were not reported to the Washing- ton County Sheriff ’s Department until the student notified a Central Middle School counselor on Friday. 

The suspect, described as a tall and unshaven man, was reportedly driving a red “long- style” jeep according to police reports. Th e suspect had a young puppy in the car with him and asked the student if she was doing okay. She proceeded to the bus stop and the man followed her, but when another parent approached to drop off  their child, he drove away, police reports stated.
No license plate information was obtained. 

“Why no one from the community called us until Friday, I can’t answer that,” Sgt. Wayne Johnson, who is assigned to Hugo, told The Citizen on Monday. “I just met with Investigations today, and they continue to work on this.” 

Johnson said the type of vehicle is still unclear, and he urged anyone having additional information to contact the WCSO at its 24-hour non emergency number, 651-439-9381. “It could have been a Blazer, or an Explorer,” he said. Police records state that the counselor was aware of a man matching the description and known to have had previous run-ins with minors in the area. Deputies contacted the suspect, who denied being in Hugo at any time during the week. 

White Bear Area School District Director of Communications Marissa Vette said that the school contacted authorities last Friday as soon as the student came forward. A notice was e-mailed to parents suggesting they review safety protocols with their children.

—Deb Barnes
contributed to this story.