The Ukiah Police Department is actively investigating what a mother is characterizing as an attempted kidnapping last night, Friday, September 9, 2022, that took place at the Alex Thomas Plaza during the annual Chili Cook-Off.
The child’s mother, who requested we withhold her and her daughter’s identity, told us while enjoying the event an unknown male jogged up to her two-year-old daughter, grabbed her by the hand, and began to leave the area with her. His attempts to take the child were thwarted when the mother and a friend intervened and grabbed the daughter, after which the man fled the area on foot.
The man, described by the mother as a “very tan male, approximately 5’ 10”, 200-220 lbs, aged 35-45, wearing a brown tank top, tan shorts” initially “jogged up jovial and headed straight for [the two-year-old].” He took the child’s left hand saying, “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.”
She described the man as “so sly and so quick” which shocked her daughter who didn’t scream while being led away by the stranger.
When he was confronted by the mother and her friend, the man was “startled by us grabbing her back…he became serious and jogged off.”
The mother noted the man, “did not say anything to explain grabbing her.” She told us, “A man ‘trying to help’ would have been relieved that his parents were right there if he thought he was taking her away to help her. He said nothing.”
Soon after the mother called 911 and began searching the area for the man who was nowhere to be found.
Sergeant Ronald Donohue of the Ukiah Police Department confirmed officers responded last night to reports of a man picking a child up and attempting to leave the area with the child before a parent intervened. He told us investigators continue to seek information about the circumstances.
The suspect, according to the mother, was a tan, white man with short brown hair. He had “stubbly facial hair” and wore a “brown tank top/wife beater and tan shorts.”
The mother told us she has posted her experience on social media out of concern that “he’ll do it to another child.”
Sergeant Donohue reminded the community to always be cognizant of the safety and whereabouts of their children and asked that if anyone has information about the man at the Chili Cook-off to contact the Ukiah Police Department at (707) 463-6242.