Woman says man tried to lure daughter from yard
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 06:00 am
An Okotoks mom is keeping a tighter rein on her children after she suspects a stranger tried to lure her daughter out of her backyard.
Stephanie Quackenbush, a mother of four, said her four-year-old daughter Grace rushed into her Cimarron home from the backyard on May 8 at about 9 a.m. asking if she could go to the park with a man. The youngster said she had been talking with a man on a bike wearing a red hat in the back alley while on the tall play structure in their back yard.
“I was literally shaking,” she said of her response to her daughter’s question. “I was terrified.”
Quackenbush said Grace often talks to herself while playing and she didn’t think anything of it as the little girl chatted away while in their backyard as Quackenbush was inside tending to her younger child.
When her daughter came into the house and asked to play with a man on a bike in the back alley, Quackenbush immediately peppered her daughter with questions and called the RCMP.
Quackenbush said she ran into her front yard to look for the man her daughter described, expecting him to exit the alley, but couldn’t find him.
Okotoks RCMP Sgt. Donna Rorison said RCMP members checked the entire neighbourhood for the man Grace described, including playgrounds and schools, but didn’t issue a public warning as they couldn’t find any evidence to back Grace’s story.
“We are not questioning whether the child spoke to somebody, we couldn’t come up with anything that led us to believe there was a serious attempt to take the child at all,” she said. “In the end we have no evidence. Had there been we would have immediately issued an advisory to the public and we certainly would have notified the schools.”
Rorison said these types of reports are a high priority for the RCMP, but they weren’t able to find anyone matching the description provided by the preschooler.
“Whoever it was, was gone,” she said. “What happened we are just not quite sure.”
Rorison said she isn’t aware of past incidents of child abduction by strangers in Okotoks, and that there have been none since she began working at the detachment two years ago.
“Stranger abductions are a very rare thing,” she said. “It’s just a very rare occurrence in the city let alone the small community. It’s a parent’s worst fear, but it’s really not a very common occurrence, particularly with strangers.”
The Quackenbush family moved from Millarville to Okotoks two years ago. Quackenbush said their vehicles have been broken into and their neighbour’s home vandalized, but she didn’t expect to have to worry about the safety of her children.
“My thought was this stuff doesn’t happen in Okotoks, Calgary maybe,” she said. “You usually think back yards are safe.”