SPOKANE, Wash. >> Residents of the town of Sprague expressed relief Thursday that an arrest has been made in the attempted kidnapping of a 22-month-old toddler from a city park– an incident that drew wide attention after it was caught on surveillance video.
A 15-year-old boy who lives in Sprague was arrested Wednesday, Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers said.
"They’re so relieved," said Dorothy Giddings, an antique store owner in Sprague who was involved in the rescue of the toddler on Sunday. "The only sad part is it is a young boy who lives here in town."
Sprague is a farm town of about 500 people located about 40 miles west of Spokane along Interstate 90.
The parents of the toddler expressed praise for their two older children, who chased the kidnapper and screamed for help.
"They have a motherly instinct," Michael Wright told The Spokesman-Review about his two older children. "We’re going to watch each other closer and even more diligently than we did before."
Giddings said the 15-year-old boy lived with his family, but did not socialize much with other teenagers. He apparently wore a disguise during the attempted abduction to mask his identity, she said.
Authorities announced the arrest on Wednesday afternoon, culminating a tense four days in Sprague.
"Deputies and detectives have worked relentlessly on this case," Magers said in a press release. They started focusing on the arrested suspect in the past 24 hours.
"Additional evidence, interviews, DNA collection, and surveillance" were carried out, Magers said. "A search warrant was executed at the suspect’s residence."
The identity of the youth was being withheld because he is a juvenile.
The dramatic surveillance video footage showed a male running down a sidewalk with the toddler in his arms last Sunday.
The child’s two siblings screamed and chased him. The scene ended after two teenage boys joined the chase, and the man put down the toddler and fled. The toddler was not hurt.
One of the kidnap victim’s young siblings also positively identified the suspect, Magers said.
The 15-year-old was booked into a juvenile detention facility on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping, Magers said. The Lincoln County Prosecutor’s Office will make the formal charging decisions.
Magers thanked the media for distributing pictures of the suspect and the public for providing tips.
The incident began after Michael Wright left his three children with a baby sitter in Sprague on Sunday while he went to work. The children — Brenden, 10, Delicia, 8, and the toddler — were playing unsupervised in a city park near the sitter’s house.
Sheriff’s deputies said the suspect talked with the children for a few minutes, then scooped the toddler out of his stroller and ran down the street. Surveillance video from a grocery store showed the kidnapper running, child in arms, with Delicia chasing and Brenden not far behind.
Delicia’s screams alerted Giddings, who was working at her antique store downtown.
Giddings said she realized what was happening and sent her grandson Andrew Crane, 15, and his friend Isaac Yow, 16, to chase the man.
As the older boys approached, the kidnapper put the child down in a vacant lot and fled, the sheriff’s office said.
No vehicle was seen with the kidnapper, who was initially described by the sheriff’s office as about 30 years old, 6-foot to 6-foot-2, with a thin build, brown hair and a mustache.
Giddings said Crane and Yow knew the kidnapper from school, although they did not recognize him Sunday.
"He was wearing glasses and a fake mustache," she said.