Reporting John McDevitt
Filed underNews, Local, Watch + Listen, Heard On, Crime and Justice, Philadelphia, Syndicated Local, Crime
By John McDevitt, Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Now that an arrest has been made in the abduction of a five-year-old girl last month from a West Philadelphia elementary school, investigators are asking for the public’s help in tracking down others who may have been involved.
According to police, 19-year-old Christina Regusters of the 6200 block of Walton Street, in the Cobbs Creek section of the city, first came into contact with the girl at a day care center where Regusters worked (see related story).
Now, Regusters is facing a list of felony charges that include kidnapping and rape. Friday afternoon, she was ordered held in lieu of $4 million bail. Her preliminary hearing has been set for March 6, 2013.
She appeared emotionless on a live video link when she was charged for the kidnapping from a West Philadelphia elementary school and rape of the 5-year-old last month.
It was revealed at arraignment that Regusters’ DNA was found on the child’s shirt.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says what happened to the girl is horrific and Regusters did not act alone.
“So we need the community in West Philadelphia — people who live on Walton or Catherine or Cedar Avenue — to call the police, to call 215-686-TIPS, so we can bring the other defendants to justice as well,” Williams said today.
On January 14th, a person in a burqa entered the Bryant Elementary School and claimed to be the girl’s mother. She took the girl out of school and the pair left.
The child was found the next morning, hiding in an Upper Darby playground.
“It was a very heinous crime and obviously it touches everyone,” said Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey.
The I-Team has uncovered new information on the terrible moments as the 5-year-old was abducted, held captive and assaulted.
Police reports reveal that the suspect first threw the little girl’s book bag and coat into the trash, showed her a cell phone picture of a man and telling her the man would be her new father.
“My heart goes out to this young girl and her family. What happened to her shouldn’t happen to anybody,” says district attorney Seth Williams.
Police reports also indicate surveillance video allegedly shows the victim being put into a bag and once in the home she was blindfolded, her clothing was removed, she was kept under a bed and sexually assaulted.
Reports claim as Regusters abandoned the victim in the playground, her final words to her allegedly were “Hide under the sliding board. Call for help.”
Police credit the alert victim with helping them to identify the crime scene and alerting them to a loud bird that she heard while in captivity.
“There was really a big bird, like a parrot, in that home that led partly to the arrest of the 19-year-old,” says Williams.
Witnesses describe Regusters as being obsessed with the 5-year-old girl.
Regusters’ attorney, Fred Harrison, said this afternoon that his client is innocent and this is a case of mistaken identity. He confirms Regusters was treated for mental health problems.
An $80,000 reward is being offered for the arrest and conviction of those involved in the crime.