A 5-year-old girl abducted from a west Philadelphia elementary school Monday morning was targeted by her abductor, Philly.com reports.
Nailla Robinson was taken from Bryant Elementary school at 8:50 a.m. by a woman wearing a traditional muslim burqa, naqib (face covering) and black gloves.
“The child was actually targeted,” said Capt. John Darby of the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit, “this was not a random act.”
He added: “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.”
Darby asked the public to call police if they saw a woman and a child on foot near the school on Monday.
“We ask the community at large, if this child was walked through the area in a particular direction, to give us a call,” Darby said.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the abductor signed a visitor’s log, but her signature was illegible. Instead of waiting in the school’s office, the woman went directly to Nailla’s classroom (indicating prior knowledge) and told her substitute teacher she was there to take Nailla to breakfast. The woman told the teacher the child was already signed out of school.
“She indicated that she was the child’s mother,” Chitwood said.
An Amber Alert was issued by Philadelphia police after Nailla was discovered missing around 3 p.m. Monday.
Nailla’s apparent abduction resulted in an outpouring of support and prayers from the public, including celebrities such as NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and former Xscape singer Tameka Harris.
A man on his way to work at 4:40 a.m. Tuesday found the missing girl in Upper Darby, outside Philadelphia. The man told police he heard a child’s cries for help from a nearby ballfield. He found Nailla hiding under a jungle gym in a park. She was wearing only a t-shirt in 30-degree weather.
“As he starts to walk to where the screams are, a little girls runs out,” said Chitwood. “She said, ‘I ran away, I ran away from the people who took me.’”
Chitwood said he did not know how long Nailla had been exposed to the frigid night air. He said it was about 37 degrees outside at the time Nailla was found.
Police say when the man called the girl over, she told him she was cold and had to go to the bathroom.
She was taken to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was evaluated for hypothermia and reunited with her mother, Latifah Rashid.
Nailla told police a stranger took her from Bryant Elementary school at 60th Street and Cedar Avenue in west Philadelphia, and led her two blocks away to a nearby house.
She said she was blindfolded, her clothes were removed and she was hidden under a bed. Police declined to say if the girl was sexually assaulted.
The girl told the man that she had been stolen, said Capt. John Darby of the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit. She said later that day, a teenager took her from the house and set her free at a playground near the house.
Darby said police have not formally interviewed the 5-year-old. As a result, he said some “preliminary information” might change.
Chitwood said investigators will focus their search for the abductor — or abductors — in the area of the ballfield since it backs up to a residential neighborhood.
“If she ran away, she ran away right in that area,” Chitwood said. “A child is not going to be able to go that far.”
He added: “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.”