Suspected child abduction incident is resolved
UPDATE: According to the boy's mother, “This matter has been resolved and addressed. The family is grateful to the sheriff’s office for getting to the bottom of the matter and for the support of the community.” The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office identified the driver of the gray SUV as a local woman who regularly visits a friend's home nearby. Reportedly she was concerned about the child, even though she admits that as soon as she pulled up, she saw the child's 45 year old aunt, who was watching from the porch less than twenty feet away. The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office spoke to the woman, who apologized for what happened and said she felt bad when told the boy was having nightmares every night.
The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office investigated an incident Monday afternoon, when an unknown woman in a dark-gray SUV reportedly kept telling a frightened three-year-old boy, who was standing in his driveway, to get into her car. The incident ended when the boy's watching aunt picked him up and ran inside their home in Hinkle's Wooded Acres near Roscoe, west of Atwood Road and north of Belvidere Road.
The boy's mother told us she had only recently moved to the neighborhood. On Monday, May 15, 2023, at 2:43 pm, her three-year-old son had walked down the driveway to get the mail. A few feet away, his aunt was watching him from the front steps.
Then an older woman stopped her dark gray SUV in front of their mailbox.
The woman reportedly said to the boy, "Great job getting my mail, sweetie, now get in the car, let’s get going." She later denied saying that. Surprisingly, she did acknowledge that she saw the aunt as soon as she pulled up, but for some reason didn't speak to her.
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A neighbor, who witnessed the whole incident, thought the older woman must be a family member from the way she was talking.
According to witnesses, the older woman told the boy multiple times to get into her car, telling him to "hurry up." Even after the boy cried, "No, go away," the woman continued to urge him.
Meanwhile, the boy's aunt was screaming his name and telling him to "Come here!" According to his mother, "He must’ve froze." Even though the boy had started screaming too, the older woman kept telling him to get into her car. Finally, the aunt "was so scared, she just grabbed him and ran back inside." She didn't take the time to memorize the license plate. The woman in the gray SUV says she waved and drove away.
Some residents have speculated that the older woman was simply confused or concerned for the child. The boy's mother told us on Wednesday, "I wish it was a misunderstanding. Nobody wishes that more than me." We have reached out to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office for a statement.
Neighbors quickly provided security videos in a effort to identify the driver of the SUV. But soon others began posting a variety of warnings on social media, even photos of similar vehicles with out-of-state license plates. Soon the rumors grew to several unfounded reports of several women driving several vehicles targeting children. One person working on the case compared it to a game of Telephone.
The mother said at the time, "It’s maddening not knowing where this woman is, especially after listening to my son cry 'No! Go away!' in his sleep all night."
Now, after posting a final update on Nextdoor, the boy's mother says, "The situation has been handled and we can forgive and move on, thank you all again for your concern and support!"
This video portion shows the dark-gray SUV driving down the street before parking off-screen. Seconds later, a driver in a black SUV passed her from the opposite direction. She was later identified as a neighbor, who was able to identify the older woman in the gray SUV. On the full video, says the mother, "you can hear my son screaming and his aunt screaming."