If you breathed a giant sigh of relief last week when a 10-year-old girl who'd been kidnapped from her own bedroom managed to break free, get ready to start gasping for air once again. The girl's name has been removed from media reports since police learned she had been sexually assaulted by her kidnapper, but the name of the second of her two alleged abductors is out. Tobias Dustin Summers is suspected of breaking into the girl's California home and spiriting her away from her family.
That should be good news, right? At least they have a name.
Only, cops can't link Summers to the family of his victim. And as of right now, they don't know where he is.
They know that Summers is a bad dude; he has arrests dating back more than 10 years for robbery, grand theft auto, possession of explosives, and kidnapping. His most recent stint in jail ended in January; and he's been a transient since.
What mystifies cops is why he chose this girl. He hasn't been linked to her family, and they can't determine if he targeted her for any particular reason.
That's not good news ... for anyone. Not only is her sexual predator on the loose, potentially able to strike again at any moment, but there's no clue for other parents to look for, no obvious marker.
The randomness of the attack just catapults this story up the fear charts for parents everywhere.
Face it: as parents we all have a heightened awareness of creeps around our kids. It's not fun, but it's part of the job. And while there is clearly no such thing as a "good" sexual predator, statistics typically point to a "known" quantity. According to Department of Justice statistics, "more than 90 percent of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way."
As unsettling as it is to know that someone we love and trust could be the one to harm our kids, it's a heckuva lot easier to keep an eye out for someone you know ... as opposed to some stranger who simply sneaks into kids' bedrooms and goes after innocent children.
This is what parents in LA are facing right now. The alleged perpetrator wasn't someone this girl's family could keep an eye on. They didn't know what to watch out for ... or who.
It made them, and every kid in that area, that much more vulnerable.
Now the only chance of keeping kids safe is to spread Summers' picture far and wide and hope that police are right; he's really the guy.
Do you keep an eye out for child predators? What sort of things set your radar off?
Image via LAPD