Update April 21, 11:15 a.m. The St. George Police Department issued a statement on Facebook Friday mid-morning regarding this incident saying they were ultimately able to contact the woman who made the original post.
“The mother clarified her post for us and said it was not an actual grabbing or kidnapping attempt,” the police post stated. “She said the situation was uncomfortable enough it caused her to realize how easily such a thing could happen. This inspired her to warn other moms about the importance of watching your children in public places. She recognized that her words may have caused more concern than she wanted and didn’t convey the exact message she was trying to relay.”
ST. GEORGE – A Facebook post made Monday to a closed group has been widely shared alleging an attempted child snatching in St. George generating concern in the community, an allegation that police have said repeatedly since Wednesday appears to be unfounded.
The incident started late Monday night when a woman posted on Facebook that her child “was almost taken” from her at the Town Square Park splash pad.
The post originated on the South Mountain Community Church’s SMCC St. George MOPS Facebook group, a closed group that “exists to connect a community of women who meet together to embrace the journey of motherhood.”
The post was shared and spread quickly on Facebook among friends and also on local “mom” groups as a warning, subsequently causing considerable alarm among community members, especially young mothers.
The post stated that a man attempted to grab the woman’s child but was unsuccessful and that she had contacted the police.
However, St. George Police Officer Lona Trombley, who serves as a spokeswoman for the department, said they have not received any reports of the incident.
An exhaustive search of police records and discussions with supervisors turned up no suspicious incidents at the Town Square splash pads this week, Trombley said.
“We did not get a report of this into our Police Department of this incident happening at these splash pads.”
Since the Facebook group where the post originally appeared is a closed group, St. George News contacted South Mountain Community Church and spoke with Pastor Thomas Mertz, who said that he knows and trusts the woman who put up the post but that he didn’t have any personal knowledge of the incident.
Another representative of the church who asked not to be named confirmed the post is a current post and told St. George News that the woman was out of town dealing with a family emergency and didn’t want to speak to the press. The representative said the woman was overwhelmed by the response to the post and never intended it to go beyond the closed Facebook group, adding that she said she called dispatch to report the incident anonymously.
This would seem to be supported by a followup post from the woman giving additional details on the potential kidnapper. In the post, she said the man was “tall (close to 6ft), skinny, medium short black hair parted down the middle kind of messy, white button up, black slacks and black tennis shoes.”
She ended the post by saying: “you are welcome to share this post but please leave my photo and name out of the tag I want to bring attention to the situation and not to myself or family.”
The original post with her name had already been shared beyond the closed group.
Trombley said she does not recall any attempted kidnappings at any of the St. George splash pads, but she added that if it did happen, it would be a big deal.
The media would be notified immediately, Trombley said, “so that we could get more eyes and ears out there, so people, if they knew anything, could come and tell us.”
The Town Square Park splash pad is so busy that if an incident did happen, police would want to inform the public immediately.
“There would be a lot of people who were witnesses that might not have realized that they had witnessed something,” Trombley said.
While the police have been unable to substantiate the splash pad story, Trombley said it does pay to be cautious. She said:
Anytime you take your child out into a public place, you should always be vigilant, because while most people are there to do the right thing, unfortunately there are people who are there for the wrong reasons and to cause harm. So just don’t give those people opportunities.
Multiple attempts were made by St. George News to contact the woman who originally posted the information about the alleged kidnapping attempt. However, she could not be reached for comment.
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