Two children from Pennsylvania who were kidnapped on Thursday evening are now safe after the kidnappers were taken into custody on Friday morning. The children aged three and four, were kidnapped from their home in Lancaster, a city located 70 miles west from Philadelphia, by two adult males. One of them was armed at the time of kidnapping, after which an amber alert was sent by the Pennsylvania state police.
The two adult males, who had taken the children, are now believed to be the children’s father and grandfather. After an altercation with the children’s mother on Thursday evening, the two men took the children in a 1994 Nissan Altima. Police said they might have planned to drive to Massachusetts. Therefore, the manhunt continued to not only Pennsylvania, but bordering states as well.
On Friday morning the police found the vehicle, with the two men and the two children, driving southbound on the U.S. Route 1 in Philadelphia East Falls. The two men were immediately handcuffed and taken into custody and are identified by the state police as Eddie Ahorrio Jr. and Eddie Ahorrio Sr., his father. Eddie Ahorrio Jr. is 23 years old. The two children were carried out of the Nissan Altima by police into an unmarked vehicle. According to the police, the children are in relatively good condition. Although it is not clear yet when the Pennsylvania children will return to their mother, they are now safe after the kidnapping.
The father of the children not only took the children without their mother’s consent, but he also bludgeoned the mother’s boyfriend during the altercation at the children’s home on Thursday evening.
In the U.S., an average of 800,000 children younger than 18 years old go missing per year. Over 250,000 of these children are taken by a family member due to relationship problems. Studies say the first three hours after the kidnapping is most crucial for every case as the risk of the kidnapper getting away becomes bigger with time. In addition, children who are not found within three hours of the kidnapping have a higher chance of being killed by their kidnapper, caused by the kidnapper not knowing what to do with the child.
Kidnapping in the U.S. also occurs by non-family members. An average of 60,000 children are kidnapped by people they do not know every year. According to studies, these kidnappings may lead to sexual exploitation of the child. A small percentage of these kidnappings are related to the internet behavior of children. Nowadays, all children are able to access the internet through their mobile phones, which increases the risk of children getting in contact with people from outside their group of family and friends.
The amber alert, sent out by the Pennsylvania state police in this case, was put into operation in 1996 and last year the alert has helped to successfully recover the kidnapping of 679 children in the U.S. It is believed to be the easiest way to inform citizens of what is going on in their area. It has also helped the two Pennsylvania children, who are now safe after the kidnapping.
By Diana Herst