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Police locate van, driver in reported abduction attempt

Kenova
Aug. 19, 2013 @ 02:04 PM

KENOVA — Investigators have located the cargo van they believe to be linked to this past weekend’s possible attempted abduction of a boy in Kenova, according to the town’s police chief Ray Mossman.

Authorities also have located the van’s owner, who they believed to have been driving at the time of Saturday’s incident. Mossman said the driver, whom he described as a “subject of interest,” already had been interviewed by police by midday Monday.

The quick-moving developments are in response to an incident from 1 p.m. Saturday. That’s when the boy, 10, told police a Ford cargo van pulled up behind his bicycle in the 1600 block of Poplar Street.

Mossman has said a man in the vehicle asked the boy if he needed a ride. The boy refused and hurried away from the scene as a man started to exit the van. The boy was not injured.

The van was located within 30 miles of Kenova outside of West Virginia. It had an out-of-state license plate, Mossman said. He cited the ongoing nature of the investigation in providing few additional details, but credited the boy’s observation skills and a tip from the public in allowing police to locate the van.

Among those observations were the van’s paint color, the driver’s beard and a passenger’s barbed-wire tattoo. Mossman said police had a possible name for the passenger, but were yet to make contact with him as of midday Monday.

Mossman said the van matched descriptions provided by children who had similar confrontations in Kenova more than a year ago. One case involved a man attempting to lure two boys to a van in early 2012.

That case occurred near the time of a March 20, 2012, report involving a 13-year-old volleyball player who told police a stranger approached and then chased her at a school gymnasium along Buffalo Creek Road in Wayne County. She spotted a van with similar characteristics.

Her story brought to light prior instances, including that of the earlier Kenova case, reports of a man driving suspiciously near a school in Westmoreland and two reports of attempted burglaries near W.Va. 75, all in northern Wayne County and preceding the volleyball player’s incident.

Similar incidents in St. Albans, W.Va., Williamson, W.Va., and Catlettsburg, Ky., followed into late April.

Mossman, as of midday Monday, was unsure of any connection to incidents outside of his town. He said authorities would be in contact with other agencies, including the FBI.

Sheriff Joe Browning, of Gallia County, Ohio, cited differing van descriptions and suspect skin color in saying his agency believes there to be no connection the Kenova incident and reports of an attempted abduction Saturday in Rodney, Ohio.

The Gallia County case involved a girl, approximately 5, being approached by an unknown man. She was not injured, the man left on his own and deputies circulated the alert as a precaution,  Browning said.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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