Suspect in Brazen Kidnapping of Salem Sabatka Had Prior Assault Case Dismissed

May 19, 2019 Updated: May 19, 2019

It has been revealed that the suspect in the recent kidnapping of a girl in Fort Worth, Texas, had been charged with sexual assault last year in Smith County. But according to the Star-Telegram, that case was dismissed.

Salem Sabatka, 8, was kidnapped as she was walking with her mother on the night of May 18. She was found about seven hours later in the early morning on Sunday at a hotel miles away, police said.

Michael Webb, 51, was identified as the suspect in the case, adding that he faces aggravated kidnapping charges.

Webb, according to a CBS19 report, was arrested in April 2018 on sexual assault charges and was described in the report as “Thin Man.”

He was also arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Richard Vance, the Smith County prosecutor who handled the case, told the Star-Telegram on May 19 that the witness was uncooperative and left Texas. “Our hands were pretty much tied on that one, otherwise we would have prosecuted him,” Vance said, adding that the alleged victim was a woman in her 30s or 40s with a history of prostitution.

“From the get-go, she was filing affidavits of non-prosecution,” Vance said. “That, in and of itself, doesn’t keep us from prosecuting but we made attempts to contact her with no success.” Later, she became “uncooperative,” he said.

Details of the Rescue

“As you can see, there’s a smile on my face. I’m here to report that Salem has been found safe,” Buddy Calzada of the Fort Worth Police said on Sunday morning.

“Two local church members” went out and discovered the suspect’s vehicle at a motel before officers breached a door of the room, Calzada said.

They had spotted the vehicle based on photos that were shared on social media, according to reports.

Praising the two church members who aided in Salem’s rescue, Calzada said, “They’re our heroes tonight, I’ll tell you that.”

“It’s a phenomenal feeling,” Calzada said in the press briefing. “We had citizens that went out of their way and helped not just the police department, but a family put some great closure to what we had going on right now.

“Detectives are still investigating and analyzing certain parts of two different crime scenes,” Calzada told People in the afternoon. “We are waiting for an update from them before releasing any additional information.”

Salem had been walking with her mother when a car approached the two. A man emerged, grabbed her and pushed her into the car while pushing her mother away and drove away with the daughter, KTVT reported.

Police issued an AMBER Alert and shared photos of Salem and Webb’s alleged vehicle on social media. A doorbell video also showed the kidnapping.

Other details about the case are not clear.

Prior Arrests

Reports said that Webb has arrest records in Bowie County dating back to 1989 that include burglary of a vehicle, burglary of a building, failure to identify as a fugitive, and resisting arrest.

In Tyler, he was arrested on charges of terroristic threats, evading arrest, and drug possession.