Outrage of the Week: 14 y.o. Arrested for “Abduction” Of Toddler He Helped

Readers — Once again, I’m just at a loss for words. Here’s the story of a 14-year-old boy named Edwin who was shopping with his mom at a Burlington Coat Factory in Florida. When he saw a 3-year-old  girl looking lost he took her around to try to find her mom. His own mom saw him go looking and said she would try to help, too.

Then Edwin saw a group of women leaving the store and thought the girl’s mom might be among them. So he went out of the store and finally took the little girl’s hand. When he realized the mom wasn’t among this group, he returned to the store. He met up with his mom and the girl’s mom. He handed the little girl over and proceeded to shop for shoes with his own mom.

And then he was arrested for “attempted abduction.”  The press arrived as he was lead out of the store in handcuffs. This wonderful column by Mike Thomas in the Orlando Sentinel says it best:

Edwin is quite the kidnapper. He brings his mom along. He hangs out in front of the store until the victim’s mother shows up. And then he returns to the store and starts shopping for shoes.

That’s one cool customer.

Detectives arrived and investigated. They then slapped the cuffs on Edwin and paraded him out in front of television cameras by now waiting outside.

“We tried to be sensitive to the fact he was 14,” said Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson. “We made an effort to keep direct questions out of his face.”

Hardly. Two reporters shoved microphones in Edwin’s face without any objection from the detectives escorting him. One of the investigators probably could have bitten one of the reporters on the arm.

“Can you tell us why you’re in handcuffs?” a reporter shouted out. “Did you try to kidnap someone?”

Despite his young age, one television station identified Edwin and put the video of his arrest on its website…. But look at the evidence.

We have the little girl’s mother losing track of her daughter.

We have Edwin’s mother not taking the girl from Edwin and turning her over to a store employee.

And we have Edwin in handcuffs.

I’m not sure the problem here is with the 14-year-old.

Interestingly enough, the girl’s mother never did press charges. But the Sheriff’s Office decided it would, ultimately settling on a charge of false imprisonment.

“He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves. “The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur.”

Congratulations.

Let’s recall, meantime, what happens when it becomes the norm to suspect any Good Samaritan, of any age, under any circumstances, of the most disgusting of motives. Recall the story of the man in England who also saw a lost toddler, this one on the side of the road he was driving by. He thought of stopping the car, scooping her up and driving her around till he could find where she’d wandered off from. But then he thought, “What will it look like if I’ve got a little girl who’s not mine in my car?” He knew exactly what it would look like.  So he didn’t pick her up.

And then she drowned.

I hate that story (but can’t find it on Google — can you, readers? Please provide a link!) And I hate the one above it. When we react to our fellow human beings with the very worst, most vile assumptions first, we are less and less apt to reach out and help each other.  That’s not a safer world.  It’s the opposite. — Lenore

P.S. A reader named Fred did find a link to the English tragedy.

Moral of story: Avoid forlorn children!

130 Responses

  1. Oh that just makes me sick. Punish the kid for helping another person — perfect make sure he and all of his peers never ever do that again. Lovely.

  2. Here’s a link to the story you mentioned: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/coventry_warwickshire/4837614.stm

    Near the end:

    “During the three-day hearing at Stratford-upon-Avon Town Hall, the court heard how a bricklayer had passed a toddler, believed to be Abigail, walking alone near the nursery.

    But he did not stop to help in case he was suspected of abducting her.”

  3. Horrible! A young teenage girl out walking her dog recently returned my (accidentally free-ranging) toddler to me. I couldn’t even imagine for a second any reaction toward this young girl other than exceptional gratitude!

    So so sad. Both stories.

  4. That’s just sickening. What a way to teach him to never help anyone. I hope the judge has the sense to throw out the charges.

  5. This is terrible! How traumatizing for this boy! Being handcuffed, falsely accused, questioned! He will never want to help again, he will not be able to trust authority figures, or even his own instincts! Shame on those sheriffs and journalists.

  6. I do believe this is the most outrageous outrage of the week yet.

  7. It’s ridiculous that the police can arrest and charge you when the parent in question never even pressed charges themselves. Besides, for a abduction charge to stick, aren’t you supposed to hide or flee with the child? Taking someone’s hand is not an abduction, it’s a safety precaution to not lose her again.

  8. I suppose what he *should* have done is not walk out the store with her, but instead go straight to a manager or employee. That’s what I would have done — the staff is *supposed* to be trained in lost children assistance.

    Still — he was actively SEARCHING for the parent, not harming the child or hiding her from ANYONE. To parade him out in front of the press is SHAMEFUL.

    Now I have to instruct my daughter in these things in case she ever falls upon this situation. Of course, she’s a girl….maybe that wouldn’t engender such suspicion as this boy has received.

  9. People are on sex offender registries for doing no more than grabbing a child’s arm after she ran in front of his car, a group of teens not letting one out for owing them money, and a teen boy leaving a teen girl in a cul de sac to walk home.

    The mother neglecting her three year old in a large department store should have had more to be worried about from the authorities than the boy who tried to help her.

    To be honest, I was more fearful of cops and trouble making neighbor ladies for my free range kids than I was ever fearful of molesters.

    My kids NEVER had an unpleasant encounter with a stranger, but they certainly did with over zealous police officers.

    This boy, even with his mother, was not safe from the police.

  10. This certainly qualifies as an “outrage”. Ugh, I don’t even know what to say without dipping into profanity.

  11. @Elfir: Agreed. Absolutely agreed.

  12. The lesson teens and kids can lear from this: Never ever try to help anyone yourself. Go to the adults and let them handle it. They’re “smarter” than you.😛

  13. Sick. Just sick. Punishing him for doing the right thing? Yep. Outrage is a good word for it. And much more polite than I would have used.

  14. This is totally shocking. I cannot even imagine how the police keep a straight face when they are doing this kind of thing, surely they have some common sense and can see how ridiculous what they are proposing is! When my son was 2 I momentarily lost him at a Six Flags waterpark. He was there one minute and gone the next. A girl saw me searching and told me her mom had just taken a little kid to the lost parents pavilion. I rushed over there and found him happily playing. I did think the woman was a bit overzealous taking him so quickly, it had been less than a minute since I had seen him, and I had not left the area, but still I thanked her and never thought anything ill of her. I was more concerned that my son went so willingly with her, he told me that she asked if she could carry him and he told her yes and she scooped him up and took him away. Fast forward to the next year and we have had serious talks about not going with people you don’t know and not trusting them when they say they are going to bring you to find mommy. My son now 3 wanders away again at Six Flags, this time from a playground stupidly designed with two exits, and is picked up by a park employee and taken to the missing childrens area. This time he thinks he’s being stolen and fights and yells and beats up the employee, I was so proud of him when I found him🙂 He must have learned his lesson, because he’s now 6 and has never been lost at Six Flags since, of course now he’s old enough that he goes around a bit on his own and rides things without me.

  15. Pardon my language, but this is fucking disgusting.

  16. Hi!!! I wanted to post a note of gratitude to you for the existence of FreeRangeKids, it has fully helped me as a parent!!

    (but before I do, let me just second NettaBird by saying, this situation with the 14 year old being arrested for helping a lost toddler? Fucking disgusting!!)

    I had a bit of a bad encounter with two other parents at the park on Sunday regarding my free range parenting (fifty feet is, apparently, too far to be from an almost six year old at the park!)…
    Which made me re-evaluate my parenting philosophy, and brought me back to your website, which helps support me in my desire to raise my kids to be as whole and healthy as possible. A community of like minded people makes ALL the difference.

    So, thanks!

  17. Err, understood I right, Nanci? You thought the first samaritan to be overzealous even though she could not have know how long your toddler was lost (and he was lost) and then you trained your child to abuse the next helper?

  18. I wouldn’t even go so far as to blame the mother of the toddler for anything. Kids get away and run off in stores. What happened was how it should happen – people help one another out and return the toddler. Nobody was to blame, here. Except the Sherrif.

  19. My now almost 13 yr old son was the ultimate escape artist as a little guy. You could swear you were holding his hand walking along and then look down and you were holding air. We lost him in hotels, stores, even on the Disney cruise ship. To our credit, he was confident enough in himself to never think he was lost. To our discredit, we lost him a little too often…but if it weren’t for helpful people like that boy, we’d probably have been arrested for child neglect. Never once did we ever have anyone “official” help us find our kid – it was always just good Samaritan types that knew a 3 year old shouldn’t be wandering around alone no matter how confident he seemed in where he was going.

    I feel bad for that 14 year old…if it had been a 14 year old girl I bet the story would have been different.

  20. Children are the new pariahs. Don’t touch, don’t look, don’t even breathe in their direction, else be accused of all sorts of vileness.

    Is that the world the Sheriff’s Office wants? Sounds like it.

  21. We just had an incident in Denmark: A woman found a two-year-old wandering the street in a village. He was dressed, but barefoot, and he was in need of a clean diaper. He wouldn’t or couldn’t tell her where he came from, so she called the police. In the meantime, she changed his diaper. The police patrol brought him to the station in a nearby city and returned to the village, where they chanced upon a very distraught woman – his grandmother, who was looking for him. They drowe her to the police station and reunited her with her grandson. Police reaction: Apparently he got up early and left the house to go play on a nearby playground. End of story.
    Another, just a couple of days ago: A kindergarten brought a group of kids to a wooded area and let them play, telling them not to wander off. Two of them did anyway and was incidentally found by a police patrol car. The officers called into the station and were told that a kindergarten teacher had called about two missing kids. The kids were immediately reunited with the group. Upon return the parents were told and took the news very calmly. Police reaction: Kids are bound to go exploring, and sometimes they will get lost. Head of the kindergarten: Not good, but inevitable.
    That story of the helpful, caring 14-year old i horrible.

  22. Another story, maybe a year ago: A man in his thirties drives along af road mid-winter and sees a young woman about fifteen in stockings, walking along the road in the snow. Initially he passes her, and then he starts to think – there must be something wrong. He goes back and asks her, if he can drive her somewhere? She gets in, but isn’t very communicative. He suggests she come home with him. She agrees. He brings her home to his wife, who gives her some warm cocoa and tries to talk to her. She won’t really speak, and the wife tucks her in in their guestroom. The next morning they call the police. She’s a runaway, who left her home in anger the day before and is shortly reunited with her family. Let’s say the man had thought of apperances instead of her possible danger and distress and just droven by? She could have died of hypothermia or been picked up by the wrong kind of guy.

  23. Lest folks think it’s just the Sherrif who overreacted, the article notes: “A store employee then called 911 at the behest of the girl’s mother.” It notes that she ultimately did not press charges, but it was she who set the ball in motion. Perhaps she came to her senses when she figured out that she just as easily could have been charged with neglect or something similar.

  24. This just tells us that we cannot trust our authority figures to know what is right. My cousin was district attorney and told such horrific stories about child abuse cases that should never have come to her desk, but the attorneys (and police and child protective services) were all untrained in the subject and inexperienced in life, ie. they didn’t even have kids. They were new and young attorneys.
    As Lenore says, it is our community and our connections that make us safe.
    Every child who got away from an abductor had to do so by trusting a stranger on the street to quickly take their side and get help.
    As for the shoulda woulda remarks, please don’t think you can proscribe every minute detail of how a person should behave and that anything outside of that small set of reactions should be considered wrong. That 14 year old boy did NOTHING wrong.

  25. As a Floridian I am ashamed of the reaction to this sweet boy trying to help a frightened little girl. If it were me I would be grateful that someone took the time to help one of my children.

  26. Just horrible. This ““He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves. “ makes me crazy, that the Capt. believes the boy was in fact doing something wrong. This is so wrong. I feel for our society.

  27. I can’t even think of something to say. This is the scariest thing I’ve read in a while, especially as the mother of 2 boys who volunteer in our temple preschool and would not hesitate to help a lost toddler.

  28. and, I bet if the 14 year old in question was a girl, this would never have happened. I have a PIT in my stomach from this.

  29. I agree if it was a girl, there would be no issue.

    I was reading the comments from the news story. I think what is truly absurd is not the police, even if there are at this point charges, but the initial media response. I know the media listens to the police radio to jump on things, but about of the news isn’t just covering car chases but to investigate and tell a complete TRUTHFUL story.

    News stations are so quick to be ‘the first to report a hot story, they really don’t care about actually reporting just something incredibly sensational. Lenore, tweeted a potential lost child on a local newspaper journalist blog a few weeks ago. He was so tempted to go with the story locally online, only to find out with a secondary search of the home the five year old was there.

    A week passes and another report of a missing child, clearly in his report the journalist mentions a secondary search of the home. His words seem cautious, and a few hours later on the website the 11 year old with learning disabilities was found, I assume he wasn’t lost, but left home without permission, since there were no details.

  30. The Sheriff’s Office can be contacted here:
    http://www.ocso.com/ContactOCSO/tabid/160/Default.aspx

    I hope all of us who are outraged will write in support of this kid.

  31. This is utterly disgusting. I bet the cop made the arrest to pad his stats.

  32. My 13 year-old son volunteers at the SC Aquarium. He (and I because he is under 16) just went through orientation. One of the topics covered was separated parents and children. We are instructed to take the child by the hand (if they are small) and walk around the immediate area looking for the child’s parents for about 3 minutes as most parents realize where they were separated from their child. It is recommended to inform the front desk via radio that we have a lost child or lost parent. If we don’t reunite the child and the adult in the timeframe, then we take the child down to the main desk.

    I was surprised and heartened at the reasoned approach to the situation.

    I was deeply distressed by the unreasoned approach on multiple levels by the store, media and police department.

  33. Anybody else notice that in the comment section for the Mike Thomas column many thought it was horrifying a child that young was let out of the mom’s site for “even a second”.

  34. Glad I live in the Netherlands…… It’s hard to get rid of the prejudices towards the American legal system and their police when you read this.
    It’s shocking. This boy will never be helpful because he will be punished for it.

  35. And people wonder why young adults seem to have no empathy anymore…

  36. The real villains in this case are the police, starting with the sheriff. I know southern cops — I have one in the family — and have seen many times what happens when an angry, sanctimonious, mere fraction of a man is given a badge and a gun. Lets hope that the judge has more brains than the arresting authorities, although that’s a tough call in Florida.

  37. Just a few weeks ago I was in the grocery store and there was a little guy that thought it would be funny to run from his mom… you can imagine this scene I’m sure… mom going to one side of the aisle and he the other always missing each other. I heard her going up one side of the aisle and could tell she was becoming panicked. I told the tot we where going to get go mommy and as I could hear panic raising in her voice and before she had a chance to run down the other side of the aisle in the opposite direction I said… lets run quick, grabbed his hand and we where off running to his mom’s voice.

    We made it to the top of the aisle before she ran down the other side, she said thank you before immediately scooping him up to put him in the cart and scolding him and I went about my shopping.

    There where other people standing around with a look of “what’s going on” but no one made a move to help this woman. I felt good for helping her but the thought still crossed my mind about the fact that I was seen running with a toddler that wasn’t my own.

    I can’t imagine the damage this police department and the employee dumb enough to call them has caused this young man. He will second guess his instinct to do good for the rest of his life.

  38. http://bit.ly/9BHoAl

    Obviously, we have to take this with a grain of salt (you can’t ever be sure of anything you find on Reddit), but this might be another side to the story. Is it possible that both sides are stretching the truth a bit? Of course.

  39. “I suppose what he *should* have done is not walk out the store with her, but instead go straight to a manager or employee. That’s what I would have done — the staff is *supposed* to be trained in lost children assistance.”

    And as the story’s given, that would have been ridiculous in another way. He thought he saw the mother within view — he was just wrong. But it was a reasonable belief — so if he had been right, and followed that tactic, he would have taken the child in the direction AWAY from her mother, in order to find someone safe to leave her with.

    Rules like “always find an employee” are good ones in general, but common sense needs to prevail. (And I know that’s what you’re saying, too.)

  40. And who’s “protecting” the fourteen year old? Isn’t he a kid, too? Shouldn’t he be free from the trauma of being abducted by ignorant police officers?

  41. I’m thinking this has something to do with a legal technicality… It sounds like the police officers thoroughly understand the situation, but that there’s some law saying that under no circumstances are you supposed to take a child around with you that isn’t related to you, and the only legal action is to turn them over to the closest thing to an “authority”, and employees are the only ones legally permitted to do that sort of search with a child. I dunno… All I’m saying is I don’t think anyone actually thinks the child was “abducted”, as such; the police are just bullheadedly pursuing the fine-print of the law, and in doing so creating a disturbing precedent.

  42. Obviously, it’s time for someone (Alexandra, as the only Floridian who has weighed in – you’re nominated!) to run for High Sherrif of whatever county Orlando is in. Please post a name and address as soon as they file for office, so I can send a campaign contribution to anyone running against the current idiot.

  43. Disgusting. Especially on the part of the Orange County Sheriff’s dept. The mother didn’t press charges, but the sheriff did. Did they even bother to look at security cameras to see if there was intent on kidnapping, or even an attempt of kidnapping. Can they not tell the difference between someone trying to kidnap a kid, and someone who’s trying to HELP a kid? Must not be a lot of crimes in Orange County, sheriff and deputies have nothing better to do than humiliate and harass a young boy, who was trying to do good. Disgrace to the badge. And gotta love that comment from the sheriff, “He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves. “The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur.” That’s a cop out if ever I heard one. From my understanding, only the mother has the authority to be in custody of her child. So does that mean if a police officer where to have done the same thing, he can be charged for attempted kidnapping? If so, then who’s going to help the child? Are people just suppose to leave him there?

    I try to have faith in humanity, but stories like this just makes me think, “one step forward, two steps back” or “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. I hope that there is a public outcry for this unfair treatment, and forces the Orange County Sheriff’s dept to apologize and take steps to make amends towards the victim of a wrongful arrest.

  44. “He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves. “The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur.”

    That’s bogus. They didn’t charge him based on an incident that did not occur, but they most certainly DID charge him with an offense that did not occur, because “kidnapping” DID NOT OCCUR.

    With logic like this, I expect to be busted the next time I go to Walmart and put something in my cart, because I might have intended to sneak it out of the store without paying for it. It’s only a minor detail that I actually DIDN’T steal it — I performed the same action as someone who would have.

  45. @Eve: the poster of that link is a dummy. He says his dad is cop, and that there is more to the story. He writes “He does not turn back to the store. The girl’s mother runs out of the store and grabs the child. A huge brouhaha then takes place.” Funny, how the video he linked didn’t show this. It showed him walk out, and walk back in. According to reports, no more than 2 min between walking out and back in. And NO mother running out grabbing her child back into the store.

    One thing about cops, they back other cops even though they know they are wrong. I have plenty of friends on the force, and the stories they tell me within their own organization has given me reason to have reservations with police officers. Not all, but it only takes a few to put a black mark on the whole.

  46. If you read the article, the staff told the toddler’s mother that the little girl was taken out of the store by a man. The staff didn’t know what the kid’s motivations were, or that he was a 14 year old who was shopping with his mother.

    It seems like at every step, someone did something a LITTLE wrong that added up to a huge wrong. The kid shouldn’t have left the store – he should have talked to an employee and had the mother paged. The staff of the store shouldn’t have told the mother that a man left with her, they should have said that the girl was right there. The mother shouldn’t have called the police. The police shouldn’t have arrested the kid. Etc. etc.

    It seems like a snowball that started with a reasonable error on the kid’s part and an overreaction on the mother’s part.

  47. There’s plenty of reason for outrage, but no call to be nasty about Florida and the many intelligent, competent, and reasonable policemen, attorneys, and judges we have here. (e.g. “Lets hope that the judge has more brains than the arresting authorities, although that’s a tough call in Florida,” and “…send a campaign contribution to anyone running against the current idiot.”)

    I’ve run into worse in Pennsylvania. There are misguided folks in every job, in every state. There are many more folks who try to do what is right in confusing circumstances and yet make mistakes.

    The handling of this situation is an outrage, certainly. But mere outrage is worse than useless. What is called for is education and turning the tide of our paranoia — just what Lenore is doing here.

  48. […] that's it. I've lost all hope for our society. We're doomed. Outrage of the Week: 14 y.o. Arrested for “Abduction” Of Toddler He Helped FreeRangeKids __________________ I'm a lawyer, but I'm not YOUR lawyer. Nothing I say should be taken as […]

  49. @pentamom: we had a similar situation to your Wal-Mart scenario here recently. A kid finds a knife on his way to school, picks it up and puts it in his backpack. Then he thinks better of it, and puts it back. When he gets to school, he’s suspended for the “intent” of bringing a knife to school. Pretty bad, when our intentions get us busted, no matter how ultimately pure our actions are!

  50. Before you all rush to Edwin’s defense, there is, as usual, apparently another side to this story. Here’s the link: http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/cflhz/remember_the_14yearold_kid_in_orlando_arrested/

    Here’s the text of the commentary:
    I’ve posted a number of times on reddit that my dad is a police officer in Central Florida–I’m going to go ahead and come out and say that he works for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. After reading the really shocking Orlando Sentinel article yesterday, I gave him a call and asked him what the heck was going on. He was furious about the Mike Thomas article, and here’s why:
    Mike Thomas’s article is full of a number of blatant lies, which are easily disproved by a viewing of the Burlington Coat Factory store’s security video. Edwin came up to the little girl when she was by herself in the “toy” section, playing with toys. She was not crying, looking for her mother, or in any way visibly distressed. Edwin leans over, whispers into her ear, and takes her by the hand (oops, my mistake! He does not take her by the hand! My dad’s giving me crap now for mis-stating this). He then walks her directly out of the store, without stopping to talk to his mother, or the store’s front desk, or any other people in the store. He takes the little girl outside and in the opposite direction of the group of people (sorry, another mistake! neither towards or away from the people, apparently) that is leaving–the group of people that he claims he thought might have included her mother. He at no point makes any attempt to call out to the group of people, stop them, or go after them. He does not turn back to the store.
    The girl’s mother runs out of the store and grabs the child. A huge brouhaha then takes place. Edwin is not allowed to leave the store (apparently, he could have left before the police got there, but he was not being restrained in any way). The police come, the mother is hysterical and insists on pressing charges. Edwin is taken into custody.
    EDIT: paragraph about VSA removed.
    Edwin’s mother lied to the police when she stated that her son told her he was looking for the girl’s mother, as proven by the security footage.
    Two days later, the mother of the little girl decided that she didn’t want to press charges. However, the Sheriff’s Office, including a number of officers and a sex crimes specialist, had become certain that Edwin was guilty of, at the very least, taking the little girl outside of the store without trying to let anyone know where he was taking her.
    Mike Thomas, who wrote the article, refused to talk to the superior officer of the officer who made the arrest. He also refused to talk to the sex crimes specialist. Furthermore, he chose to sensationalize the story by purposefully stating incorrect facts. (My dad didn’t actually know this for certain, this is what someone told him.)
    So, you can take all of this with a grain of salt, of course. I have no proof personally of any of this, just my dad’s word–and YOU have no proof that I’m not just making all of this up. However, if you check out my comment history, you can see that I’ve repeatedly referred to my dad being a police officer in Central Florida. If you go way back, you can see that all of the information that I provided about the SeaWorld trainer death was eventually shown to be correct by the media a day or so later.
    Anyway, I fully expect to get downvoted for this, and I imagine few people will ever even see it… but I wanted to provide the non-sensationalized side of the story, from the police officers who handled the case.
    And, a little teaser… (EDIT4: This “teaser” thing is horrible wording. I completely apologize. In fact, I probably should have never mentioned this stuff at all, but I wanted to try to state that based on further information, I am more convinced that there is something effed up going on here.) my dad told me a few other things that make me personally convinced that Edwin has some real issues and, at the very least, needs serious counseling. I can’t state what these facts are, but I hope they come out in the media eventually.
    EDIT: Here’s a YouTube video of a local news station. It shows some clips from the security footage, for you to judge for yourself. Thanks to Bluko for the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNNcYUluJH8
    EDIT2: Just to clarify, the stuff that my dad told me that I am choosing not to share here is ALL public record. It’s just stuff that’s not being discussed in the media yet, and probably no one but police/school officials/family members know. He probably shouldn’t have told me because it’s personal about this kid, but it’s also not stuff that is not accessible to the general public.
    EDIT3: (Whoa, I need to stop editing.) I specifically told my dad I would be posting this on reddit. (Well, I told him “an internet site.”) I asked what would be okay to post and what wouldn’t be, and I didn’t post anything that he asked me not to post. Another clarification.
    EDIT5: So, I sent this to my dad, just to make sure I had everything right, and he has me make a few changes, particularly removing the thing about the VSA, since he agrees that is not real evidence. All changes are noted. Sorry, I really, really didn’t expect this to get so much attention!!

  51. Just to play devil’s advocate: I want to point out that the police were not necessarily in posession of the facts presented in the story. It is not remotely surprising that they would over react to something that had been reported as a possible kidnapping. It is also not surprising that the mother and store employees jumped to the kidnapping assumption. It is likely that the boy was arrested before any questions were asked, and that is probably standard. I would say that for the first half of the story everyone acted understandably, even if incorrectly.

    Here’s where they went off the rails:
    Police failed to protect a minor from media questions and illegal (it’s illegal right?) NAME reporting.

    Media jumped on the ratings bandwagon with out doing any actual investigation (except this story apparently) by accepting and fanning kidnapping fire

    Charges were not dropped the instant actual facts came to light.

    This is still an outrage, just a slower one than it initially appears.

  52. If the kid should be charged with anything it should be, “being the worst kidnapper ever in the history of the world”.

  53. @Ulla re: good Samaritan changes diaper:

    At one preschool we looked into for my son, it takes 2 staff to change a wet diaper. One to change and one to witness. #2s are not changed, parent is called.

  54. Hey, Lenore, I think this should be noted here.

    A post on a social news site I frequent — http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/cflhz/remember_the_14yearold_kid_in_orlando_arrested/ — talks about the things that aren’t said in the link you posted. Apparently the poster’s dad is a police officer in central Florida and says that “Mike Thomas’s article is full of a number of blatant lies, which are easily disproved by a viewing of the Burlington Coat Factory store’s security video.” He goes on to describe what his dad says really happened and where it differs from the article.

    There is a link to video footage in the post. There is also some interesting discussion in the comments responding to the reddit.com post, if you pass by the first few joking comments.

    I don’t mean to display judgment here, just offering more information. My tentative opinion, seeing as I wasn’t there and haven’t watched any video footage, is that this is probably just one more thing blown way out of proportion — after all, how is a 14-year-old boy going to kidnap or harm a little girl when he’s out shopping with his mom? That would have to be one seriously disturbed kid and that’s pretty unlikely. But the more information available, the closer people can come to what really happened.

  55. We have ‘heroes’ like John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted exhorting us to never allow boys to babysit!

    It would be interesting to hear HIS take on this situation.

    In our efforts to “save just one child” we have succeeded in destroying many, many innocent children.

    As it’s already been pointed out – if this had been a 14 year old girl, she would be hailed as a hero. Since it was a 14 year old boy, he is an accused criminal.

  56. Also, the way the legal system works( if this case was not being scrutinized so publicly), this boy would be facing multiple serious charges. He would be offered a plea bargain for lesser charges in exchange for not taking it to (an extremely expensive) trial.

    Over 90% of those accused accept plea bargains in the face of insurmountable costs and odds of being horrifically punished if found guilty.

    The chances are extremely good that unless his family is wealthy enough to afford justice, he would accept a guilty plea.

    THAT’s how the justice system works, folks.

  57. Ms. Wightman – well, having lived in Harris County TX (motto: Our County Has Executed More People Than Your State!) for most of my adult life I’m pretty much used to the sherrif being an idiot. But just as when a Navy ship runs aground the captain is relieved immediately no matter who was on watch, this outrage happened on the current officeholder’s watch and he needs to be relieved by the voters ASAP.

    I hadn’t realized that Orlando is in Orange County. I follow the OC Weekly (California) pretty regularly because I’m an “Ask A Mexican!” fan, and I’ve read and enjoyed most of T. Jefferson Parker’s excellent Orange County cop thrillers. But… you mean BOTH Disneylands are in Orange County? Makes me glad there isn’t an Orange County Texas – our Disneyland is in Travis County, whenever the State Legislature is in session. We could use some more Mickeys and Poohs and Snow Whites; Lord knows we’ve got too many Goofys in the Lege.

  58. I wonder what the statistics are on these types of things occurring. I worry that we discredit those who take an isolated incident of child abduction and use it to justify their “helicopter” style parenting, yet we may be doing the same thing ourselves by taking isolated incidents such as this and using them to plead our free-range case? Just taking the devil’s advocate stance…

  59. Kim, it doesn’t really matter how often an incident like this happens. When it does, it is not just a free-range issue; it should offend everyone with a speck of common sense.

    If I read again how the boy used “poor judgement” or how he “should have done this and not that” I am going to bash my head in the wall. HE’S F*CKING 14!!! He’s not exactly an expert on the proper protocol for dealing with a lost child. And it’s not just that he obviously DID NOT kidnap the girl, but also that there is NO WAY IN HELL that he would have. As the article pointed out so well – 14 year old boys shopping with their mothers are not kidnappers!

  60. Karen:

    Read the comments up a few from yours. There’s at least the strong suggestion that Edwin knew exactly what he was doing, and that it was unsavory.

  61. I watched the video and Edwin was helping like any normal 14 year old BOY would have helped, with cell phone in hand. There was nothing unsavory about his actions. I also went to the secondary website, the one spouting about untruths in the report’s story. That message was ‘dictated’ to a ‘teen’ from his/her ‘father’. <>. I support the theory that there are always three sides to a story: yours, mine and what really happened.

    As to poor Edwin….just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished.

    I weep for humanity.

  62. @coffeegod:

    Way to see what you want to see. That’s true open-mindedness.

  63. This is a tragedy. What can we do? I feel so helpless. That poor boy.

  64. This makes me sick. My son is 12 and the oldest of four, and because of that he is very good with smaller children and is always looking out for them. I hate to think that this could have been him just trying to help out and being treated this way.

  65. “Over 90% of those accused accept plea bargains in the face of insurmountable costs and odds of being horrifically punished if found guilty.”

    Although there are innocent people who plea guilty (too many in my opinion), the vast majority of those accused who accept plea bargains do so because they are actually guilty. There are innocent people in prison but the prisons are not bursting at the seams with them.

    This case is ridiculous and clearly a situation where an innocent boy is charged with a crime that wasn’t even committed. I hope his parents and lawyers are able to get the court to see reason and get the charges dismissed. But let’s not make it appear as though 90% of the criminally accused are innocent and only plea guilty to charges because trials are expensive. That is far from the truth. And I say this as a defense attorney, not a prosecutor.

  66. Brian, I’m at work and I can’t watch any videos right now. But can we use our brains here? What unsavory deed are you implying? If you are saying that the boy was a molester – well, that’s certainly possible, but then wouldn’t he lead the girl into an isolated area instead of farther out in the open? Or, are you actually implying that this boy was indeed trying to kidnap her? Because I’m sorry, that’s just retarded. I shouldn’t even have to explain why.

  67. Disgusting…and a sad commentary on our society.

    Remember the police captain’s famous words about Edwin:

    “He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves.

    That’s right:

    “He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves.

    To Captain Nieves, the worst case scenario was all that mattered. Edwin COULD HAVE been an abductor.

  68. I’m just waiting to when they put this kids’ name on a sex offender registry and ruin his life.

  69. If the boy shouldn’t have ‘detained’ the child, then why not go the whole hog and charge child’s the parent/s with neglect?

    I’d laugh, only I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s already happened to some parent whose child has got lost.

  70. What I want to know is who did call the police on this kid? Well one lesson this kid learned is that there are really stupid rules and police enforce really stupid rules. I hope this engages us all to try and change the culture for the better. All of us should be writing in to the city of Orlando . Do NOT let them get away with this! It is great that you posted here but please go post something on

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/views/os-mike-thomas-juvenile-arrest-06151020100615,0,1374755,full.column

    and email the Mayor at buddy.dyer@cityoforlando.net

    I did.

  71. Brian,

    Care to tell us what your open mind sees? Watching the videos and reading the other account I don’t see anything sinister in the kids actions. Police overreaction is still my verdict in the situation.

  72. Okay, so it may have been wiser for the boy to find a cashier and for them to announce the child’s location on the load speaker.

    Nonetheless, a proper response upon finding the girl unharmed with the older boy is to thank the boy, retrieve the child, and continue with your shopping.

    All and all I don’t think the toddler was the one who was falsely imprisioned.

  73. “He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves.

    Great mind at work. So when a small kid comes weeping to me, stuttering “I’m lost, could you help me find my mummy?”, I should answer “I’m sorry, dear, but I have no authority to be in your custody.”, right, Capt. Nieves???

  74. @ Rich Wilson,
    You must be joking! But sadly, I think you are not. How can parents possibly come change a diaper in the middle of the day?
    And the witness-thing is also insane, though I think leaving the door open might be reasonable.

  75. I think the unfortunate consequence of all this “Men are assumed to be pedophiles and only women can be trusted around children” is effectively regendering childcare and all of the professions that deal with children. Any man who genuinely likes kids is assumed guilty. We’re going backwards with regards to traditionally female roles, like teaching, nursing, child care provider and others. What’s next? Only women can be trusted to act as a child’s pediatrician? All men are to be feared, only women can be trusted? While pedophilia is less common amongst women, it DOES happen. While some parent is guarding against that creepy male neighbor, who is to say some female neighbor who “looks nice” isn’t willing and able to perpetrate sex crime. The helicopters would scream “that’s why we don’t trust ANYONE” but frankly, having children who fear all strangers gets old real damned fast.

    In my bagpipe band, there are a lot of kids who join up, or are learning to play, and they’ve got FB pages. I know SEVERAL older men in the band who either have refused to get FB pages, or refuse to friend these younger kids, especially females, because they don’t want to be accused of anything. My instructor has opted out of events, like going to a 16 year old’s party because “it wouldn’t look right” (!!!!) I think this is profoundly sad. These are all fine upstanding men with nothing but the best intentions, and they’re all intriguing, interesting individuals who would make excellent role models. Yet, they can’t really interact with some of the kids without fear that someone “will get the wrong idea.” I think it’s a sad commentary on society, and certainly a loss to these kids.

  76. This story shows how dangerous our governance systems can become to us, when we do not have an ethically trained society. The police chief looses sight of his socially expected purpose because his career mind (what he gets $, status, promotion) is served by pandering to the media (on terms of what $ they get from the sensationalism) and a score on the police activity chart (real crime zero but fake crime can count), and when a child gets abducted well he has a 50% success rate of prevention of child abduction rather than a complete failure rate. In the end, policing in a state in which it is expected only threat of punishment, not ethical behaviour, guides the populace, there is no order. Police works by the bribes that are traded in terms of career elevation, media profile, and looking good for election time. An ethical approach would dictate that the police interview mothers, son, on the spot, determine the motivations, feel re-assured by the outcome, praise the good samaritians to the media, explain why the apporach of going out of the store may not be appropriate and what steps to take in the future. In other words, educate the youth to do more next time and do it better. A society fearful that a caring attitude will only get them jail time, is a society that is dying, and we are supporting it all the way.

  77. Brian,
    I read the lying idiot’s rambling account of what “really happened” as told by his father… then watched the videos that HE PROVIDED. They clearly show nothing even remotely resembling what he described took place. I’m very curious to know what sort of “unsavory” plans the boy had that involved him bringing the toddler right back into the store where his mother was waiting for him.

  78. As the mother of a son, soon to be 9, that loves kids and little babies stories like this just sadden and sicken and scare me. Some day I’m going to have to inform my caring, loving, helpful son that he can NOT go up to a young girl if she needs help lest he end up on the sex offenders list for life just for being a good guy. It’s sad.

    Like someone else said–all men and boys are now considered guilty of pedophilia or being up to no good from the get go. Just because they have a Y chromosome they must be wanting to molest little children and can’t control themselves at all around girls. That’s just sick. We now have whole generations of men that are afraid to even see their own daughters naked or have them be seen naked because they could be accused of molesting them. Men who take their kids to the park and are looked at sideways because they must be up to no good if they want to spend time with small children and, god forbid, they try and help another child.

    We were at a park in Milwaukee last summer and me and my husband were watching our then 3yo climb the play structure while I took pictures. A little boy of about 2 was climbing this crazy shaped ladder up to a slide that was 6+ feet off the ground and slipped. The rungs were far enough apart that he started to slide through and was about to fall 5 feet to the ground so my husband instinctively grabbed for him and pushed him back up to safety and let him continue on his way. His older brother (about 4 or 5) yelled, “don’t you touch my brother!” All I could think was I hope the parents don’t overreact and accuse my husband of molestation because he saved their kid from breaking his neck.

    And because of the way our society is he would have been convicted despite witnesses simply because he was a man and touched a small child’s bottom (as he pushed him back up).

    As for the 14yo being arrested. I have a feeling it has something to do with the way the laws are written. Like when the police get a domestic disturbance call–even if the caller (usually the wife) decides not to press charges the police HAVE to arrest someone which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.

    I met a woman online a few years ago who had a loud argument with her husband and the neighbor called the cops. They HAD to arrest one of them so her husband volunteered. He spent 2 nights in jail and when he was released was not allowed to return to their home because he was accused of battery even though the wife didn’t press any charges because he never hit her (they were just yelling at each other). It was the day before Christmas and he couldn’t see his family because of some dumb, nosy neighbor. She said it took 3 months to clear it up and he had to sleep on a friend’s couch while she was stuck at home with her 3 small children and no help. All because of some moronic zero tolerance law.

  79. […] Outrage of the Week: 14 y.o. Arrested for “Abduction” Of Toddler He Helped Readers — Once again, I’m just at a loss for words. Here’s the story of a 14-year-old boy named Edwin […] […]

  80. Okay, correct me if I am wrong, but I think you all are missing a few relevant facts. Have you watched the videos? There is video of Edwin lumbering into the store (he is BIG), There is video of his mother claiming he did nothing wrong. What you all seem to have missed is that Edwin and his mother are people of COLOR. She looks Hispanic, and he looks black. I bet if Edwin was a small blonde haired child this would not have occurred.

  81. wow. I am lost for words. That’s so sad

  82. You can also email Jeff Williamson directly at Jeff.Williamson@ocfl.net. Let’s fill up his inbox. What a monstrous travesty of justice.

  83. What is with people these days? The other night I was working in a RETAIL store, in my UNIFORM. A lady stopped at the end of an aisle to look at something and her about 3yo daughter continued up the aisle to the toys. And starts talking to me, so being a mom of course I talk back to her (shocking!). Finally, the mom walks up and says to her daughter, “You know you shouldn’t just talk to ANYBODY. You don’t know her.” What, you think she doesn’t know the difference between a store employee in a uniform and some random person? By 3, all of my kids could. And if she was that concerned she should have had her in the cart instead letting her walk ahead. Let’s just blame the kid, or another person, because we weren’t paying attention to our own kid.

  84. Lori – You may be right about the mother. But it may also be that she was mainly trying to stop her outgoing daughter from bothering someone who was working. I know I struggle to balance my kids’ love of people with community norms that are more restrained.

  85. Lenore,
    I have to say you are right on with all of your observations. I got to your blog from this article: http://theweek.com/article/index/96342/the-last-word-advice-from-americas-worst-mom

    First I want to say that it’s refreshing that there are still good parents that really understand that a child is a growing, learning human being who doesn’t need to be coddled 24/7, quite the opposite. I live in a city where no one seems to care or watch their children and it’s not a good scene. They are into drugs, violence, and other things that children just shouldn’t be exposed to. This has made me very sad and quite worried about the future of our nation (not to mention the government and other craziness going on in the tv and media). Hearing your story gives me hope that there are other people out there like you that will raise healthy, happy, independent children that won’t be terrified of this wonderful world as so many people have become these days. Thank you for giving me hope for the future.

    Also in regards to this post, it is so sad and truly heartbreaking that people have become afraid to help. I can’t imagine the guilt that that man must feel for not helping that child. Fear is crippling and we all need to realize that when it’s our time, it’s our time and no amount of hiding in our homes huddled around the television watching all the dramatized news stories and over-amped reality tv will save us. God Bless you Lenore, keep up the good work!

  86. Nice Posting and great information thank you.

  87. I believe this is a fine example of The Patriot Act in ac tion. If you haven’t read it, then read it, and if youhave, read it again, slowly and then compare it to “Meinkauf. No. We are NOT free. And NO. We are NOT safe. Many folks DO take their eyes off their kids thinking they live in TV Land with Ozzie and Harriet.To them I say this- I worked in a children’s operating room a bit over a year and I can tell you this country has gone to the devil….sad…..so sad…but if you want bliss it will not be here, in a big city at least……and don’t trust another perswon to love your kids like yoiu do.Yes we need each other, the writer is right. But the good people are so hard to find when the evil ones look just the same….

  88. After listening to the 911 call here http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-911-call-burlington-coat%2C0%2C4297073.mp3file , I can understand why the police initially overreacted, but unless they know something major that we don’t they should have acknowledged the misunderstanding and moved on. I don’t blame the employee who made the call, either, he was just going on what he had been told, and wasn’t present when it happened. I’m guessing the mother misinterpreted it herself, not realizing that her daughter had wondered off, and severely overreacted.

  89. owen59- well said.

  90. Sorry about the multiple posting here, but I see a justification for helicopter parenting. What it the 14yo HADN’T been there with his mom? So much of the belief that he wasn’t acting badly stems from the fact that he was with his mom. If she hadn’t been there (perfectly acceptable in my mind for a 14yo, he could have an even harder time shaking this.

    Also, the “no authority to have custody” point is stupid, but I have to point out that there would never have been an opportunity for him to have “custody” if her mom had kept an eye on her. I’ve got three little kids, one of whom is hard to keep track of in stores (pot, meet kettle), but coming from the mentality of these people, I’m just sayin’.

  91. @helenquine — “But it may also be that she was mainly trying to stop her outgoing daughter from bothering someone who was working.”

    I suppose that’s possible, and I’d feel the same way. It’s very important to me that my kids learn appropriate social boundaries — i.e., to be friendly and courteous but not in-your-face pests. Being in introvert, it gets my back up when I get these three year olds asking me persistent personal questions in the supermarket line while their parents beam at them. (If they’re friendly and smile I smile back and make some kind of pleasant comment, so I’m not saying I’m a hostile recluse.) But the thing is what the mom said — not, “Don’t bother the lady if she’s busy.” It was, oh, don’t talk to just anybody, she’s a (organ chord) STRANGER. So I’d have reacted the way Lori did.

  92. This is classic Orlando, which I gratefully fled 3 years ago before my kids would ever go to school there. And this is exactly why we moved. When Lenore talks about trusting other parents on the playground, or leaving your kid there for a while I nod, thinking of our current home but shudder thinking of how it was in Central Florida. In Orlando, you don’t LOOK at someone else’s kid, lest you get the stink eye. Actually TALK to someone else’s kid and the parent shepherds them away within seconds, even if their child and your child are actively playing together. God forbid you glance away from your kid and she falls, the nearest parent will wag a finger at you… “Your child needs you! Hurry! Save them!”

    It was awful and I would have thought it normal if we hadn’t vacationed to a big city, played on playgrounds there and found perfectly friendly, engaged and non-Stepford parents to chat with. Parents who let our kids share their kids’ toys. Parents who let their kids accept a cracker from me! Parents who chatted with each other instead of glaring at each other with suspicion. Could not get out of that town, that state, fast enough.

    All that to say I am absolutely NOT surprised by this happening in Orlando. Horrendous and completely normal by local standards. Gah.

  93. Quote Donna: ” But let’s not make it appear as though 90% of the criminally accused are innocent and only plea guilty to charges because trials are expensive. That is far from the truth. And I say this as a defense attorney, not a prosecutor.”

    Donna, no one inplied 90% are innocent, but I will say the number of innocent people accepting plea bargains for something they didn’t do it limited only by the number of people willing to make false accusations, because unless the accused has enough funding for justice, they certainly aren’t going to find it in today’s corrupt system.

    As a defense attorney you also know that.

    This country imprisons more of it’s male population BY FAR than any other nation on the face of the planet – and I for one do not believe that is because American Males are the largest criminal element on the face of the earth. American women rank a much lower 9th, in the middle ranges. Girls are GOOD Boys are BAD is the American way of thinking.

    There is an undeniable war on American males within our culture.

  94. Here’s the security footage:

    http://www.wftv.com/video/23871075/index.html

    He never took her hand and it looks like he just took her out of the store. And according to this “interview” (the writer’s dad is in that sheriff’s office) the kid just walked up to the girl and whispered something, then took her out of the store. He never told his mom he was trying to help, there wasn’t a group of people who walked out first, etc. So there are a few discrepancies. Who knows what actually happened, and at least the police dropped the kidnapping charges.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/cflhz/remember_the_14yearold_kid_in_orlando_arrested/

  95. pentamom – I would probably have taken it the same way, I only mentioned the alternative because earlier this week I caught myself saying something very similar to my kids. All I was concerned about was them hassling a woman in the park who happened to be polite enough to smile at them, but it probably sounded as though I didn’t approve of the woman. I realized after that it could be taken the wrong way, but it was too late.

    It can be hard to come up with the exact right form of words when you’re a bit frazzled already. The phrases associated with stranger danger thinking saturate our environment and it’s easy for them to slip out even when what you really mean is something somewhat different.

    On the other hand I’ve sometimes said things that sound bad because, well, that’s what I was thinking…

  96. Just one more comment, and I swear I’m done. If it weren’t for the prevalent opinion that children shouldn’t be more than a foot away from their parents, this boy might not have even thought the the girl needed help. It doesn’t seem like she was distressed (can’t tell for sure, but she hadn’t been away from her mom for very long).

  97. A weird side note: I just saw a new TV advertisement for Burlington Coat Factory, pushing some summer sale. Among the dozens of people walking through the commercial in beachwear, we see a boy of about age 14, wearing a swimsuit, handing some toys to a girl around age 3. Watch for it.

  98. Since the 14 year old boy is a minor child, can the police also be charged with attempted abduction?

  99. Good point, helenquine — it’s easier to image what you would say in a situation, than to say it just that way.

  100. KarenW – not sure you are still reading these posts. I have been away and just got back to it. My comment above wasn’t meant to imply that I don’t find the situation offensive. I do. My point was that we are taking this incident and using it as an example of “what’s wrong with the world nowadays”. I was comparing it to taking a child abduction (rare occurrence) and agreeably even more offensive, and using it as an excuse for helicopter parenting. We bemoan people who do this, and yet we are taking this (hopefully) isolated example and potentially blowing it out of proportion? I was just saying, how often do things like this happen? Is this really a trend we should be concerned about or an isolated incident. Sure, we can be outraged at this particular incident, but is it cause for global alarm?

  101. I have notified the ACLU to pressure the idiots in the Sherrif’s Office to drop charges and apologize – absent that, I asked them to consider a lawsuit.

    The police sometimes need to be trained.

  102. I found it funny that Edwin was criticized for not taking her to a store employee, but according to the survellance tape the little girl wandered in front of the sales clerk for quite a bit and he didnt seem that inclined to help.
    I also agree with sgtmom, as a mother of a son, I have become increasingly aware of the girls are good and boys are bad syndrome. Which I dont believe, I know just as many bad girls as I do good and the same for boys.

  103. Kim, you make good points, but I think maybe what’s fueling the reaction is the (probably correct) suspicion that this couldn’t have happened (even as an isolated incident ) a generation ago, before this climate of suspicion and fear took hold of all of our public dealings with young children. So it seems like maybe this is just part and parcel of a disturbing situation we see all around us ALREADY, and this is just sort of another quantum leap in ridiculousness.

    Still, you are right that it is good not to base our view of everything on one incident.

  104. This whole story gives me chills. As a 44 year old African American man, I imagine myself in the same circumstance. A little kid in distress because she can’t find her mommy. Me talking to the child and taking her by the hand as we go looking for mommy or store employee. Mommy seeing some unknown guy hold daughter’s hand and walking her around the store (perhaps even out the door into the mall).

    I shudder to think of the consequences. And that’s before I add in any racially based misunderstandings.

  105. Mike Thomas has just posted and update to this story regarding one of the arresting officers. THomas indicates that Sgt. Rich Mankewich has a history of racial profiling among other shady dealings. I wonder if this kid posting on reddit is any relation to the good Sgt.
    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_columnist_mikethomas/2010/06/sgt-rich-mankewich-and-edwin.html

  106. Contact information for the two law enforcement officers mentioned in the story (Williamson and Nieves) can be found here:

    http://www.ocso.com/MediaRelations/Whosoncall/tabid/116/Default.aspx

    You’re welcome.

  107. i have the misfortune of working in retail (until i graduate). stories like these is why i let kids run around unattended because this nonsense. do i want to help them? yes. but do i? no. call me what you want, but this pc society has lead me to be this way. sorry. like bruce hornsby says, “that’s just the way it is.”

  108. @Gary – sadly, that, too, was my first thought. I think the police in would have been much less likely to pursue this were the boy in question of the caucasian persuasion.

  109. ok here are the facts.

    girl is alone while her mother is distracted.

    boy sees girl, tells her that he’ll help her find her mom.

    boy believes one of the women exiting the store maybe the mom, follows them out. girl follows, he takes her hand. (a 14 year old shouldnt know what ‘protocol in this situation is anyways)

    girls mom comes and says ‘thank you’ (not the brouhaha that that phony claimed) mom and girl go back to store, as do boy and his mom.

    now im gonna do a little conjecture. when mome goes back to the person who told her the boy was walking off with her daughter, the mom is convinced by said employee that something nefarouis was afoot. then she tells the employee to call the police. this is the only thing that makes sense to me.

    cops come and insanity ensues.

    more speculation. the brilliant orlando police department has stated that they have not interviewd the little girl cause ‘she’s too young to understand.’ that is total and utter nonsense. they put children that young on the stand to testify against molesters. mom takes little girl home, asks little girl what happened. little girl either corroborates the boys story, or doesnt discredit it. mom then says ‘i dont want to press charges’ because she is embarrased at her own actions (starting with not paying attention to her daughter)

    now the police wont let it go cause they would be more embarrased to admit they are being morons then they would to be convinct a boy trying to do the right thing.

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  111. Poor boy. I hope all works out okay for him. Such a waste of resources pursuing a case against him and will definitely make him think twice before offering assistance to anyone in the future. Obviously a well natured kid before this, because a lot of 14year olds would be too self-absorbed to even notice someone else’s kid. Hope he manages to stay that way.
    I have had a case where, after doing my groceries, I wandered back to my car then looked up to find a little boy, 3 or 4, had followed me out from somewhere thinking I was his mum. I had no idea he was with me, he had no idea until I stopped at the ‘wrong’ car that I was the wrong person and we were both left a little confused. I walked him back to the shop I had been in, hoping that was where I had picked him up from, notified security. To the letter I could well have been in unlawful custody of him too.

  112. When my niece was 3 or 4 years old, she somehow managed to “escape” from her house and the small gated community she lived with her parents. The main gate in leads to an avenue.

    A truck driver (OMG!!!) spotted the child on the sidewalk in front of the gated community and asked her where she lived. Being very young she didn’t know how to answer so the truck driver took the girl to the gated community and asked in the first house if they knew the little girl. Of course they knew and pointed the truck driver to her correct house. She took my niece back to her house much for the dismay of her mother that didn’t know the child was not in the house.

    Happy ending. She was not run over by a car or bitten by a dog thanks to a stranger. (!!!)

  113. Wow. I don’t even know what to say about this. I think this outrage of the week is even more disturbing than that poor college girl who forgot the little kid at the daycare.

    Lenore, it’s great that you’re highlighting these outrages, but they make me feel so helpless. It’s not enough to know about them. You’re usually preaching to the choir on this blog–after all, most of us who visit it are of the same mind as you.

    Maybe you could have some link advising us how to become activists on issues like these? I can’t do anything about this kid in FL. And I HATE That helplessness. The judge/police force aren’t going to care how I feel about this. But is there anything, anything at all we can do about things like this heinous example? Write letters? Pester the police chief with phone calls? I don’t know. I just can’t bear to know about this and not be able to do something, even if it’s a tiny something. I donate to the Institue for Justice to help fight against eminent domain (a separate issue from the ones highlighted on this blog), and even if it’s something small, at least I’m doing my part to fight for things I feel passionately about.

    I think it’s great you’ve started the Bring Your Kids to the Park Day and Leave Them There Day, but I want to do something more. Maybe there isn’t anything else we can do, but if there is, let me know. I’ve never been an activist before, and am not sure how to go about it.

    PS. Many states have very tight strictures against grass-roots activism, and this is in fact one of the things IFJ fights against. If you haven’t heard of this organization, check it out. I think you would love it.

  114. where the heck are al sharpton and jesse jackson? they come slithering around any time a black girl with bogus rape accusations surfaces……why not this poor framed kid? this is real injustice. but they wont touch it i bet.

    not that this is all about him being black, though. if he was a black 14 year old girl, this would never have gotten this far. this is more the fact that he’s an imposing 14 year old black male, or male period. the sexual double standard is horrendous. like the police thought that sandra cantu wasnt ‘in danger’ cause the murderer she walked away with was a woman.

    ridiculous

  115. […] People who try to match lost little kids up with their parents. […]

  116. […] Free Range Kids 14 y.o. arrested for “abduction” of toddler he helped […]

  117. I have a friend who has spent years in the social work world of my medium-sized city. She now oversees the entire VOA system, but her original passion was to found a place where young people who were runaways or who had been kicked out of abusive homes could find a place of safety. They can find meals, counseling, clothing, and support for continuing their schooling. She has always maintained that the most vulnerable and mistreated of our population is the teenaged male. The above tale is her case in point.

  118. Wow. That makes me really, really angry.

  119. We have Florida’s John Walsh, a self promoted “authority” on child molesters who some consider a ‘hero’, exhorting us to never allow boys to babysit. We have Mark Lunsford roaring about on his Harley promoting ever stricter laws against sex offenders – his own son exempted. Somer Thompson was kidnapped earlier this year and her parents are now promoting a law in her name –

    The hysterics are in high gear in Florida. This kid just got caught in a “perfect storm”.

  120. This situation is a nothing issue that has become a felony for a 14 year old boy that did NOTHING wrong. The officer(s) could have explained to the boy that he shouldn’t have left the store with the little girl but thanked him for helping out.

    Captain Nieves and Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson should be fired immediately due to their idiotic answers to press. You can also add the officer(s) that put this kid in cuffs. Get them all to the unemployment line.

  121. I was prior law enforcement in the military. One day, we had an airshow. It was supposed to be a day off, but we were conscripted by “forced volunteering,” and I found myself guarding one of the gates entering the airfield.

    A little girl came through the massive crush of people, crying piteously. I knelt down and asked her what was wrong, and she said she was lost. There were far too many of us “volunteers,” and I wasn’t given a radio that day. I sat there for 45 minutes trying to calm the desperate child and asking for help from other people before a civilian woman offered to help and went and found another officer to take the child to lost and found where they got on the loudspeaker and almost immediately reunited the child with her parents.

    Needless to say, I did everything I could to help, and thought I would at least be given a “thank you” by my supervisor. Instead, I was pulled aside by two sergeants and a lieutenant and lectured that I should have left the child alone and waited for a female officer to arrive, despite the fact that if I hadn’t aided the child she probably would have ended up in a far worse situation, for far longer.

    I learned that as a man I’m not supposed to help women in need, crying or not… it just makes me out to be a sick pervert.

  122. Please put handcuffs on me.
    And whilst you’re at it you had better put them on two of my brothers and one of my sisters.

    I can recall a time when each of us as teens (we are now all young adults) have stepped in to help a small one who has become separated from their parents or similar.
    It is the decent thing to do.

    Since when did doing something decent land you with a charge?!

    Phang and others, please do help out if you see someone in distress. We need to show kindness, otherwise this insanity will take us all over.

  123. Here is an update: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-edwin-and-mom-speak-20100701,0,4888758.story

    Charges were dropped, and they’re still hoping to get the arrest expunged from his record.

    Edwin apparently is a troubled boy in many ways. That, of course, is no excuse for this whole ridiculous episode. However, it may very well turn to his advantage, as the national publicity has generated help and mentors he would never otherwise have received. Let us hope so.

  124. Children have a limited understanding of their world. Often the best way to teach (discipline) is to divert his attention by distraction. They find a toy or game you really like and put it before him. You may be redirected several times before concluding that the interference of work, bring their enthusiasm for each new suggestion (with her happy, laughing, dancing, clapping, etc.) the amount of their interests. Sometimes our children can not help you, just need to know what Mom was so stinking excited!

  125. […] then someone got a clue, as Free-Range Kids says, so all’s well — except this is a 14-year-old kid who tried […]

  126. That is just disgusting….Not only this story, but also phang’s, for example. Apparently men can not handle children.

    You see this in more places. With divorced couples it’s often the mother who gets custody of the children, and children often end up being kept away from their father because of the vengefulness of some bitter poor-excuse-for-a-mother. Also much like kidnapping, but a father has to move mountains to see his children again. On the other hand, a father who keeps his children away from the mother will be practically sought out by the whole country…

    Women’s rights have developed over the last 50 years, but with the emancipation of women we forgot the emancipation of men. Men are still stuck in the role models of 50 years ago, and worse.

    Media apparently have taught us that all men are perverted scum and are not to be trusted with kids. How can i ever take my young daughter for a walk in such a society?

    I believe it’s not as bad in the Netherlands, but I have thrown away all plans of ever visiting the USA. As Simone said, it’s hard to get rid of prejudices when you hear stories like this. In fact, everything i hear or read seems to confirm them…

  127. Robin, don’t believe all the scare stories. It’s much like the child-abduction scares: you hear about the bad ones and don’t get a good idea of the true risks. Between the sensation-seeking news media and Hollywood, the truth doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    From my experience with modern American divorce practices, joint custody is the norm, and for either parent to contest it against the will of the other is a long, difficult, and costly process.

    Don’t make your judgements of another country or culture by what you see on the news, or, worst of all, in the movies; get to know the people. Our children’s favorite babysitters were male. Men teachers are often prized more highly than women, even at the lower levels, because of the need boys have for positive role models. The increasing prevalence of diaper changing stations in men’s restrooms (and of “family” restrooms) speaks clearly of the fact that more men than ever are expected to take care of young children, boys and girls.

    Granted, there are aspects of our society, such as the over-charged sexual atmosphere and the self-fulfilling expectation that “boys will be boys” in the worst way, that make it hard on the innocent — just as the actions of a few terrorists make the life of the innocent traveller difficult.

    But I wouldn’t cancel a trip to the U.S. — or any other country — for either reason.

  128. Disregarding if the actions of this guy Edwin were right or wrong, I just have to let you know that I´m horrified to see police officers like Sgt. Richard Mankewich (who is sadly known around latin america also as racist and young’s killer) exposing his attitude towards black people and this time against a 14 years old kid, violating his rights by letting the media take videos in his face, just to appear like the “efficient cop”. This so called detective is a shame for you Police Officers. thanks God I´m not living in his jurisdiction.

  129. Whatever happened with this case? Is the sergeant still on active duty?

  130. […] Here’s our original post on the topic. And here’s the happy ending – complete with mentor overload for the young man, who now has a whole bunch of adults hoping to help steer him to a successful life. We hope the same thing for him! Happy weekend to all! — Lenore […]

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