Philadelphia girl taken from school then found outside city was "targeted," report says

Surveillance footage of a 5-year-old girl who was abducted from a Philadelphia school on January 14, 2013
CBS Philly
Surveillance footage of a 5-year-old girl who was abducted from a Philadelphia school on January 14, 2013
CBS Philly

(CBS) - Police said the 5-year-old girl who was taken from a Philadelphia school and then found safe outside the city Tuesday morning was "targeted," CBS Philly reports.

The girl was last seen being escorted out of Bryant Elementary School on Monday by an unknown woman. The child was found the next morning hiding under a jungle gym in a park outside the city.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said a man walking to work found the little girl crying, shivering and wearing only a t-shirt. The man told officials that it looked like the girl had cuts on her lip, CBS Philly reports.

"She told the male that she was taken from school," Chitwood said. "She was transported immediately to (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), where she's being treated."

Surveillance footage captured a woman dressed in a burqa leaving the elementary school with the girl on Monday morning. Investigators said the woman did not show ID, but she told school officials she was girl's mother and asked for her by name. The woman said she was taking the girl to breakfast.

The female suspect is described being in her 20s, between 5'53-5'63 and wearing Muslim garb. Authorities said neither of the girl's parents gave permission for the child to be taken out of school.

Chitwood said investigators believe a male suspect may also be involved in the alleged kidnapping attempt. The child said she remembers getting into a car with the female suspect and then going to a home where a male suspect was staying.

The captain also said the girl told investigators she escaped from her abductors.

During a news conference Tuesday morning, Special Victims Unit Captain John Darby said the child was targeted and that it was not a random abduction. The captain said the female suspect was possibly pregnant and knew what she had to do when it came to removing the child from the school.

Darby said because the young girl was found partially clothed, she was being screened for a possible sexual assault.

The School District of Philadelphia is now investigating the incident, saying it was a complete breakdown of protocol.

"This is very upsetting," said spokesman Fernando Gallard, "that an adult was able to walk into a school building, able to go to a classroom, and to pick up a child and say the child has been checked out, and then walk out with the child."

School officials were expected to send out a letter to remind administrators of the proper procedures.

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