DAVENPORT, Wash. – The 15-year-old boy accused in the attempted abduction of a toddler from Sprague’s town park this week was denied bail on Friday.
The teen pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree kidnapping. He is accused of scooping up a 22-month-old boy in the Sprague town park just after noon Sunday and running away with the toddler in his arms. The child’s two older siblings gave chase, as did two teenagers who heard the commotion. The abductor put the child down on the edge of a vacant lot and escaped.
The teen’s attorney, Christian Phelps, argued that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to have a hearing to determine bond and release conditions. Deputy prosecuting attorney Melvin Hoit said he would be willing to consider a $100,000 bond with the boy to be on house arrest if released, but said he would prefer that the teen remain in custody.
“There is a concern,” he said. “Apparently there are other children in that house.”
Judge John Strohmaier sided with the prosecution.
“I am concerned about community safety issues,” he said.
Strohmaier said he would also be concerned for the safety of the teen if he was released.
“He has gained some notoriety,” he said.
The Spokesman-Review does not generally name juveniles charged in crimes.
The case has gained national attention since the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office released surveillance video footage of the attempted abduction and pleaded for information to help solve the case.
After the hearing Phelps said he doesn’t believe his client would be in danger if released.
“This is still a pretty safe community,” he said. “I don’t think we would have vigilante justice.”
Lincoln County Prosecutor Jeff Barkdull said he was pleased by the judge’s decision.
“The town of Sprague is very concerned about the safety of their children,” he said.
Investigators reviewed video surveillance from several Sprague businesses that showed the abductor. Undersheriff Kelly Watkins felt that the pictures of the abductor seemed familiar and believed it might be the teen that was eventually arrested, said Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers.
Watkins and Chief Criminal Deputy Brian Telford visited Sprague High School and watched the teen, noting that he had a similar walk to the suspect in the video. When the teen was interviewed, he denied any involvement in the attempted abduction, according to court documents. Deputies recovered a recently ripped and stained jacket from the teen’s room that matched the one seen in the video.
The teen’s grandfather told investigators that he dropped the teen off at church that morning wearing a suit jacket and tie, according to court documents. The teen was as supposed to be at the fire hall for a community service project at noon. However, a witness said he didn’t show up until 1 p.m.
Michelle Barrus filed a police report in June alleging that the same teen took her 11-year-old autistic son by the hand and led him out of her yard. The teen stopped when she yelled at him. The case was investigated by deputies, but the deputy prosecutor said there wasn’t enough evidence to support a charge of child luring.
When interviewed Thursday, Barrus said she was aware of other similar incidents involving children in the time since she made her report.
Magers confirmed Friday that he has heard from other parents since it became known who was arrested as a suspect in the abduction. None of the incidents he heard about appeared to rise to the level of a crime, he said.
The teen is being held in a juvenile detention facility in Spokane. He is scheduled to appear in court again on April 10.
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