Salem Sabatka, 8, found safe after being swiped into car while walking with mother in broad daylight outside Fort Worth, Texas – CBS News

Salem Sabatka, 8, found safe after being swiped into car while walking with mother in broad daylight outside Fort Worth, Texas - CBS News

Abducted Texas girl, 8, found safe after church members reported suspects vehicle, police say

8-year-old back home after kidnapping Fort Worth, Texas – An 8-year-old girl snatched in broad daylight into a passing car while walking with her mother outside Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday was back with her family Sunday after being found safe some eight hours later at a hotel with her alleged abductor.

Police said 51-year-old Michael Webb was arrested on an aggravated kidnapping charge and was arraigned Sunday. He was being held without bond.

“In this instance, we had a vehicle description. A semi-vague vehicle description. But not a plate,” Fitzgerald said. “So we were able to leverage what we could out of the Amber Alert system and our social media, and that’s what really helped us… social media saved the day for us.”

Surveillance video from a home in the Fort Worth suburb of Forest Hill showed Salem Sabatka being taken, reports CBS Dallas.

Video: 8-year-old girl found safe at hotel after kidnapping in Fort Worth, police say

Her mother tried desperately to hold on, jumping into the car after her daughter but, police said, she was pushed out as the car sped off with Salem. Her mother was left on the ground in a panic.

Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said an Amber Alert was issued for the child, but due to certain criteria not being met, citizens may not have received the alert on their phones. Many throughout social media said they never received the alert on Saturday.

Amber Alert issued for missing 8-year-old girl

Police issued a statewide Amber Alert and posted pictures on social media of Salem and the car the suspect was driving, asking for the publics help.

Fort Worth police gave an update on the case of kidnapped 8-year-old Salem Sabatka on Sunday, where they discussed how she was found safely and why there were issues with the Amber Alert being sent out to the general public.

Later that night, police received a tip from two local church members who went out looking for Salem.

The criteria in question had to do with the suspect vehicle’s description, specifically the license plate number. On Saturday, police were only able to say that the vehicle had paper tags.

The tip led authorities to a nearby hotel where, around 2:30 a.m., they found the vehicle and forced their way into the room where they found Webb and Salem.

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Wondering why you didn’t receive Saturday night’s Amber Alert for Salem Sabatka? You’re not alone.

Last year, Webb was facing charges of sexual and aggravated assault in Texas but the case was dismissed when prosecutors said the alleged victim became uncooperative.

Mayor Betsy Price was also in attendance, and she believes there may need to be a change in the Amber Alert’s guidelines.

Hundreds of grateful community members gathered Sunday, joining police to celebrate Salems safe return.

“With a case like that it certainly helps to have the victim there present to testify,” he said. “That wasn’t going to happen because the trial date was approaching so we made the decision to dismiss.”

“This is a very tight-knit community,” Keith said. “When anything comes up in this neighborhood thats out of the ordinary, you see the citizens of this neighborhood band together very quickly.”

A desperate search for an 8-year-old girl in Texas who was snatched while walking with her mother came to an end early Sunday when authorities were able to locate the child thanks to two alert church members who went out and spotted the suspect's vehicle, according to police.

Webb was charged with sexual assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, both felonies, but the case was later dismissed. Richard Vance, assistant district attorney for Smith County, handled this case.

The Fort Worth Police Department said on Twitter just before 2:30 a.m. that Salem Sabatka was found safe at a hotel in the Fort Worth suburb of Forest Hill and that a suspect was in custody.

"I wasn't near the family, but I was listening on the radio when this came out and I was screaming and clapping, police spokesman Buddy Calzada told reporters. "So I can tell you if I was screaming and clapping as an officer here in Fort Worth just listening in, it's unbelievable what the family was thinking."

Sabatka was kidnapped just after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday while on a walk with her mother when a man grabbed the girl and put her in his car.

The mother jumped into the car and "fought ferociously" but she was pushed out and the man drove away, police said. A neighbor's doorbell camera captured the moment Salem's mother was thrown from the car.

Salem Sabatka, 8, was kidnapped by a man in a gray sedan while walking with her mother in Fort Worth, according to police. (Forth Worth Police Department)

After authorities put out an Amber Alert with a description of the suspect's vehicle – a gray four-door sedan — two members of a local church called authorities when they spotted the car at a hotel in Forest Hill.

There were 424,066 missing children reported in the FBIs National Crime Information Center in 2018, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Under federal law, when a child is reported missing to law enforcement they must be entered into the database. In 2017, there were 464,324 entries.

Calzada praised the two church members for their actions and the "phenomenal feeling" of helping to locate the child. The two church members, who have yet to be identified, had seen the photos on social media and decided to go out on their own to help authorities find the car.

Theyre Our Heroes Tonight: Missing Girl Found Safe After Church Members Spot Kidnapping Suspects Car

"They're our heroes tonight," Calzada told reporters. "We had citizens that went out of their way to help find them."

“Unfortunately, since many children are never reported missing, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the U.S.,” NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) added.

ILLINOIS AUTHORITIES NOT ALERTED TO EARLY CLUES ABOUT WOMEN SUSPECTED IN CUTTING OPEN WOMAN TO STEAL BABY

“As you can see, there’s a smile on my face,” said police spokesman officer Buddy Calzada during a press conference early Sunday, May 19. “I’m here to report that Salem has been found safe.”

Officers arrived at the scene and located the room where the suspect was staying, where they discovered Salem.

“We’re a good police department, we work hard, but with you on our side, we’re able to be more effective,” Calzada said. “You guys were a huge asset to helping Salem be found safe.”

Calzada said the 8-year-old appeared to be in good condition and was transported to an area hospital to be checked out by doctors.

The suspect, 51-year-old Michael Webb, is not a relative and is facing aggravated kidnapping charges, according to Calzada.

Authorities said in the coming days, they plan to reveal more about the two church members who helped find the girl.


Posted in Salem