AURORA, Colo. – Police were searching Tuesday for a man who tried to kidnap an 8-year-old girl from her bedroom in the middle of the night by slashing an outdoor screen and dragging her into an alley.
Investigators say the girl screamed for help early Monday morning and was able to get away from the abductor just as her father ran outside to help her. The father told police he saw the suspect speed away in the alley that runs behind their house. Police Chief Dan Oates said the girl's loud struggle to escape may have saved her life.
Oates said there is no indication the family was targeted and police are treating the case as an attempted stranger abduction, a rare crime. Investigators are studying surveillance videos of businesses, searching sex offender databases and also checking on whether there have been any other similar incidents elsewhere in the Denver area.
"We think there's a predator out there. And he has to be caught, and he has to be stopped," Oates said in announcing a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
He said the girl talked to the man, but he wouldn't elaborate.
The girl's grandmother, Beatrice Padilla, told The Denver Post the girl was doing her homework in her bunk bed in her first-floor bedroom just after midnight when the suspect entered and covered the girl's mouth with his hand. She said another child was in the room but asleep at the time.
Oates said it's likely the suspect saw the light on and had been watching the girl.
The home is in a residential neighborhood just outside Denver made up of a mix of single-family dwellings and apartments. The alley behind the house is near three apartment complexes used by residents to access parking.
The suspect is described as a blond man, wearing a black winter jacket with a strong odor of cigarette smoke. The girl's father said he was driving a silver or grey BMW sedan.
Neighbor Lawrence Chambers said the news was disturbing.
"I want to tell my neighbors: Protect your kids," he said.