Esther Daniels walked over to where the family was standing and tried to snatch a stroller with a child sitting in it. The shocking surveillance video taken inside the airport shows the child’s mother fighting with Daniels.
When she couldn’t grab the first child, she tried to lift the family’s second child, and this time the child’s father stepped in, reported WSBTV.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the baby in the stroller was a girl while the other child was a 6-year-old boy.
At that point, an Atlanta police traffic control officer who witnessed the commotion ran across the airport atrium to prevent the kidnapping and then ran after Daniels.
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) June 27, 2019
Three other officers put her down on the ground before arresting her and taking her away on a wheelchair.
“Ms. Daniels continued to fight to make her way back toward the kids and I had to bring Ms. Daniels down toward the ground to keep her from getting back toward the victims,” one of the officers who grabbed Daniels told The Journal-Constitution.
The officer said Daniels was “experiencing mental distress” and was taken to a hospital before being transported to the county jail, reported ABC7.
“Her behavior was very erratic, but we can’t really speak on what her mental state was, but we can agree that what she did was very erratic and odd, to say the least,” Atlanta police spokeswoman Tashena Brown told WSBTV.
A resident of Kansas, 26-year-old Daniels was charged for attempting to kidnap and for obstructing an officer. She is held at Clayton County Jail without a bond.
The children and their parents are from Lithia Springs and were on their way for a holiday at Disney World, according to various media reports.
IT’S A PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE. https://t.co/ccv7YDQYgW
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) June 26, 2019
Brown applauded the officer whose prompt action helped the family. “She deserves all the praise,” she said, according to WSBTV.
“Especially for her to have been working, really, in a civilian capacity, for her to just to jump in right away with no hesitation is amazing,” Brown said.
The spokeswoman said it was essential for the three officers to grab and put Daniels down on the ground.
“That’s why we go through our training and make sure, of course, we’re able to get that person in custody, hopefully without any injuries or anything like that, but they had to do what they needed to do in order to subdue her to put her into custody,” Brown said.
Daniels’ preliminary hearing before a Clayton County judge is scheduled for July 11, according to WSBTV.
Child Abductions in the United States
A child becomes missing or gets abducted every 40 seconds in the United States, according to Parents.com.
It says, based on the identity of the abductor, there are three types of kidnappings—family kidnapping where the child is abducted by someone from within the family, acquaintance kidnapping, and stranger kidnappings.
Family kidnappings account for 49 percent of the total, acquaintance kidnapping about 27 percent, and stranger kidnapping about 24 percent.
Child Abduction Statistics for Parents https://t.co/5faUnQuvvT
— Scott Michael (@scotiebee) May 28, 2019
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports that in 2018 it helped law enforcement and families with 25,000 cases of missing children.
Out of these, 92 percent were endangered runaways, 4 percent were family abductions, and less than 1 percent were non-family abductions.
Reuters quotes the FBI as saying that since 2010 there have been fewer than 350 cases of abductions of people below 21 years of age each year.
“It doesn’t happen very often, but they’re certainly the cases that capture our attention because they strike at our worst fears,” Robert Lowery, a vice president at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told Reuters.
Most of the stranger kidnappings happen in outdoor locations and victimize more females than males. Most of these happen on the street and the abductor tries to grab the victim or lure them into vehicles.
“In 80 percent of abductions by strangers, the first contact between the child and the abductor occurs within a quarter mile of the child’s home,” said Parents.com.
The portal says acting fast is critical. In abduction cases where children are ultimately murdered, 74 percent of children are found dead within three hours of kidnapping.