On Monday, five-year-old Nailla Robinson was taken from her Bryant Elementary School and found safe the next morning outside the city. She was found by a man in a nearby park in Upper Darby under the bleachers.
She was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and was being checked for Hypothermia as she was discovered shivering and wearing only a t-shirt.
Originally, the focus of the abduction was reported on the breakdown of the school’s procedure in allowing visitor’s to sign out a child from the school. During a news conference held on Tuesday morning, the Special Victims Unit announced that this was not a random abduction but that the young girl was targeted.
Special Victims Unit Captain John Darby spoke during the news conference and said that five-year-old Nailla Robinson was targeted when she was taken early Monday from her elementary school. She said that she remembers going with the female suspect into a car and arriving at a home where a male suspect was waiting for them. How she got to the playground where she was later discovered is not clear.
Conflicting reports from ABC and CBS News says that a teenage girl would later take Nailla from that house to the playground, while the other report is that the young girl had escaped from her abductors.
When Darby said that Nailla was targeted and that her abduction was not a random act, he added that, “The woman knew which classroom to go to, and knew Nailla’s name. She left the school on foot with the girl in tow, and that no car was used.”
According to Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, the man who discovered Nailla said she was crying, shivering and only wearing a t-shirt. Being that the girl was found only wearing a t-shirt, she was being checked for possibly being sexually assaulted.
Chitwood said that the abductor signed a visitor’s log but the signature was not legible. Rather than waiting for the child to come down to the office, the suspect went directly to Nailla’s room (indicating prior knowledge) and said to the substitute teacher that she was there to take Nailla out to breakfast.
She told the teacher that she had already signed out Nailla in the front office. Chitwood said that the woman indicated that she was the child’s mother. The woman was covered with an all black niqab and a piece of cloth that covered her face. Police described the female suspect as being in her 20’s, between 5’53-5’63 and wearing Muslim garb.
The school district of Philadelphia is investigating the incident and has said that what happened is a complete breakdown of protocol. Lt. John Walker of the Philadelphia Police Department said that “There’s a signature in the book you’re required anytime you go into the schools. There’s a list of people who can pick a child up. She did sign a name but it’s not legible so we are not quite sure who the person is.”
The school district released a statement where they admit Bryant Elementary committed some major procedural violations including that “an adult is not allowed to go to any classrooms to check children out.”
Spokesman Fernando Gallard said, “This is very upsetting that an adult was able to walk into a school building, able to go to a classroom, and to pick up a child and say the child has been checked out, and then walk out with the child.” School officials were expected at some time to send out a letter that reminds administrators of what the proper procedures are.
As for the investigation, Darby said that police have not formally interviewed Nailla, so some of the “preliminary information” could change. According to Chitwood, investigators will focus their search for the abductor or abductors in the area of the ball field because it backs up into a residential neighborhood.
Chitwood said, “If she ran away, she ran away right in that area. A child is not going to be able to go that far.” He added that: “It had to be an animal to do something like this, to abduct a child and leave her in the park with just a t-shirt.”
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