(PHILADELPHIA, Pa.) — After a 5-year-old girl was kidnapped from a Philadelphia school and assaulted earlier this week, community leaders banded together to offer a $75,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible.
According to police, the child was taken from her school Monday morning by a woman wearing Muslim garb and calling herself either “Tiffany” or “Rashida.”
The girl was then taken to a house in the area where she was blindfolded and assaulted. The child was discovered early the next morning, when a passerby named Nelson Mandela Myers discovered her crying on a playground wearing only a t-shirt.
“She said she was cold and that somebody was chasing her and she ran,” Myers told ABC station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.
The child was admitted and then released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia after she was found.
In a joint press conference Friday, community leaders and law enforcement officials aimed to draw attention to the case by offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
The largest single contribution came from the office of State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams, who raised $30,000 for the reward.
“I will work night and day from now until the time this person’s condemned to hell,” Williams said.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s office donated $10,000 to the reward.
“It’s gutless, it’s heartless, it’s inhumane. We will find you, we’ll do whatever it takes,” Nutter said of the perpetrators.
The U.S. Marshals and the FBI have already started to aid the Philadelphia police with their investigation.
Officials are looking for both the woman who took the child from school and a male suspect who was at the house where the child was taken. Officials say they believe the girl was taken only a few blocks from the school and officers joined by police cadets have been canvassing the area. However, no suspects have been named.
“That neighborhood should not, cannot return to normal, until someone and we know someone out there knows who perpetrated this crime,” said Capt. John Darby, Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit.
Additionally the security lapses that allowed the girl to leave her school with a stranger will be investigated, according to the Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite.
“We are going to deal with the individuals responsible for this breach,” Hite told WPVI-TV. “There were procedural breakdowns in this school.”
The substitute teacher who let the girl leave with the unidentified woman, and a non-teaching assistant who worked at the security desk have both been put on leave.
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