Originally Published: July 26, 2002 6:15 p.m.
Newspapers would far rather not report on the kidnappings of children and worse yet, the murder of little girls.
In the wake of three brazen kidnappings of girls – two that ended in brutal murders and one still unsolved – the story of 7-year-old Erica Pratt gives us hope.
Two men grabbed Erica from in front of her grandmother's row house in Philadelphia, but 24 hours later, she was back with her family. Her captors blindfolded her, gagged her, and tied her up with duct tape and left her in the basement of a dingy, abandoned building 10 miles from where they took her.
She managed to chew through the duct tape on her wrists, freed herself, made her way up to the first floor and finally broke out a window to scream for help. Children playing in the neighborhood heard her cries and went for police.
Unlike the kidnappings of Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Danielle Van Dam and Samantha Runnion in California, a ransom demand surfaced immediately in this kidnapping.
The demand went nowhere, fortunately, because early Thursday police arrested two suspects and charged them with Erica's abduction.
The kidnappings of Danielle Van Dam and Samantha Runnion ended in brutal murders of the girls. A neighbor of Danielle's is on trial for her murder, and police have filed charges against a man in Samantha's killing.
The family of Elizabeth Smart still doesn't know her fate, but perhaps Erica's courage and quick action by the community and the police may give them hope.