3-year-old Liam McCall of Charlotte, N.C., is not missing, thanks to quick action by his mom, Camilla McCall, WBTV reported. In a jarring coincidence, the same is true in the unrelated case of a 2-year-old girl from San Jose, Calif., according to KCBS.
Liam was riding a bike in a park with mom trotting some distance behind when a would-be kidnapper snatched the boy off the bike right before mom's eyes, the Examiner explained. That's when Camilla McCall sprang into action, grabbing her boy and holding tight. She managed to wrestle the man to the ground.
The kidnapping suspect got away but has been identified through a receipt with a fast food meal box he dropped while fleeing. He's been identified as 41-year-old Jerry White, a man who's been arrested 103 times, primarily for non-violent crimes.
While a stranger attempting kidnapping in the mother's presence is uncommon, it's not unheard of. The same week Camilla McCall saved her son from a kidnapper on the east coast, a mom on the west coast had a similar experience. In that case, a mother in East San Jose reported to police a man approaching her yard Tuesday and making a comment about her 2-year-old girl, KCBS reported. The woman, whose name has not been released, told police she felt uncomfortable and picked up her daughter. It was then that the would-be kidnapper tried to grab the little girl out of her mother's arms.
While two such incidents in a week is unnerving, stranger abduction is exceedingly rare. Of the 12,000 annual non-family abductions, 37 percent occur at the hands of strangers, the Child Safety for Parents blog notes. That's .05 percent of all child abduction cases.
Stranger abductions occur primarily in outdoor locations with the targets more likely to be female, the Klaas Foundation says. The typical targets are teenagers and school-age children, not babies and preschoolers.
In the cases this week, moms' instincts kicked in to save preschool-age children from potential strangers intent on kidnapping. But sometimes it's a stranger who saves the day. That was the case in 2011 when Antonio Diaz Chacon just happened to be in the right place at the right time. After borrowing his in-laws' washer and dryer, the Associated Press said, he was loading laundry into his car when one of the neighbors screamed as a man snatched a young girl and drove away. He chased down the kidnapper, who crashed his van into a pole and ran, giving Chacon the opportunity to rescue the girl.