A walk through a residential neighborhood should be pretty safe and straightforward. Plenty of people go on walks with their dogs, children and friends without batting an eye.
But in May, one neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas, experienced quite the scare. A mother — who wishes to remain unnamed — was walking with her 8-year-old daughter, Salem Sabatka, when the two were approached and a man grabbed Salem.
He forced the girl into his car while fighting off her mother. Thankfully, a neighbor’s doorbell camera caught the car and part of the attack.
An Amber Alert was issued and the hunt was on for the young girl. The Fort Worth Police Department posted a photo of the 8-year-old on Facebook along with a short description, hoping that someone would spot her and call in.
They also released a description of the suspect, saying he was an “unknown black male with a bald head, no facial hair [and] skinny build wearing a navy jacket and a gray shirt,” according to WFAA.
Photos of the suspect’s car were also distributed and neighbors, friends and volunteers turned out in droves, keeping their eyes open for any sign of the kidnapper or Salem.
Later that day, a tip came in regarding Forest Hill’s WoodSpring Suites hotel, and Forest Hill police showed up to the room of 51-year-old Michael Webb. Seeing no sign of the girl, they left — but Webb had forced Salem to hide in a laundry basket and threatened to harm her and her family if she made any sounds, according to a video by Inside Edition.
Thankfully, another tip came in when a friend of the family spotted the wanted vehicle in the parking lot of the same hotel, and this time Fort Worth police showed up, broke down the door, hauled out a naked Webb and discovered Salem’s hiding place.
Video of the rescue was recently released, and the chilling footage has been circulating.
“We believe that justice has been served in this case. And we are thankful for and agree with the Judge’s decision to sentence him to life in prison. My hope is that this family and this community will find solace in knowing that he will never be able to harm another little child again,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said, according to CBS News.
If it hadn’t been for the neighbor’s doorbell camera and a family friend’s diligence, this story could have ended very differently. The Fort Worth Police Department made sure to recognize all the offers of help that came through on May 18.
“Thank You to everyone who offered their time to volunteer in the search for Salem Sabatka,” the department wrote in a Facebook post on May 20. “Thank you for all of the messages and tips provided by our followers.
“We also want to thank the numerous police departments that assisted us in the search. Fort Worth’s community is the best.”
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