KINGWOOD, W.Va. — The attempted abduction of two young girls in Morgantown earlier this month has affected parents everywhere, but none more than Kingwood Police Chief Todd Nestor.
“Unfortunately, one of the girls who was approached was my daughter in Morgantown,” Nestor said. “So this really hits too close for me. She did the right thing, which was run home and tell her mother.”
Nestor said the man who approached his 8-year-old daughter kept asking her to shake his hand, and each time he said it he became a little more forceful and his daughter kept backing away until she ran home.
“I am thankful that she paid attention to everything I have been telling her over the years,” Nestor said.
West Virginia State Police interviewed the 12-year-old on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and she said a man approached her at her at a bus stop on Tyrone Road in Monongalia County. The incident involving Nestor’s daughter reportedly was the first abduction attempt, taking place on Nov. 12 near Dorsey Avenue and Avalon Street in Morgantown.
“This has hit too close to home,” Nestor said. “It isn’t a very far drive up Route 7 to get into Preston County and try it here.”
In a precautionary measure, Nestor has asked City of Kingwood police officer A.J. Newland to increase his visibility at city bus stops in the mornings, and Nestor will be increasing his afternoon patrols in the area.
“At the present, he is patrolling the school zones in order to get people to slow down,” Nestor said. “But he will be going to the bus stops also in the mornings and evenings.”
Nestor also said he will be getting in touch with the Preston County Schools bus garage to get a better idea of where the buses stop and the times they are picking up and releasing students.
Preston County resident and parent Pam Feathers said it is exactly because of predators she takes her children to the bus stop, waits with them and picks them up at the end of the day.
“Unfortunately, not everyone has the option of picking up and dropping off their children at the bus stop,” Feathers said. “An alarming incident very close to home assures me, you can never assume it can’t happen to you.”
Law enforcement authorities in the county confirm there has not been any reports of attempted abductions here, but they ask parents and neighbors to be on the alert.
“We regularly patrol school zones and look for anything out of the ordinary,” Preston County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy PA Pritt said. “But we do ask parents and students to stay vigilant at all times.”
“Parents need to be with their kids at the bus stops or need to close by so they can watch them until they get on and off the bus,” Nestor said. “Usually my daughter’s mother is watching, but she went back in to quickly get a cup of coffee that morning.”
Nestor also recommends kids walk together to and from the bus stop in a group.
“Awareness that predators are everywhere is knowledge,” Feathers added.
Nestor offered even more advice for both children and parents to use in any situation where they might feel threatened.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” Nestor said. “If you see something or someone suspicious, report it. And kids — do not be afraid to scream LOUD and run for your home or a neighbor’s house.”
The vehicle used in the Morgantown abduction attempts was reportedly described as a small red car. The suspect is reported as being with a mixed-race man.
Investigators with Morgantown City Police and West Virginia State Police are asking anyone with information to contact local law enforcement.