Reader report: Girl says man in van followed her in Gatewood

October 11, 2013 at 9:56 pm | In Gatewood, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

Reader report: A 12-year-old girl told her parents – who in turn told police – that she was followed around 8 pm tonight in Gatewood, near 39th/Webster (map), by a van described as “light-colored, beat-up,” driven by a man described as “middle-aged, with dark brown hair.” She reported the van followed her for a few blocks as she walked home from a friend’s house and at one point flashed its lights at her; she started running when she noticed it, and hid on the side of her house because nobody was home yet. Her father then arrived and saw the van as the girl ran to the parent’s car; the van took off at that point. The family just wanted to share the alert; we’re checking to see if police have anything to add.

27 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing. It makes us all more aware. I hope your daughter is ok. I know she is probably terrified. She did the right thing!

    Comment by A Kuhn — 10:41 pm October 11, 2013 #

  2. Glad she is okay, she did the right thing. Do they happen to know the make of the van? Chevy, Ford, Dodge? I assume it’s the creepy style from the 70s and 80s full size van. Will definitely keep an eye out for one in the description above. Did it have windows or was it a panel/work van style?

    Comment by Mike — 11:14 pm October 11, 2013 #

  3. The real question is, is this relevant: http://www.king5.com/news/crime/Canadian-violent-offender-Washington-state-227380751.html

    Comment by DS — 11:19 pm October 11, 2013 #

  4. This is subjective fear-mongering and not news.

    Comment by Marie — 3:45 am October 12, 2013 #

  5. Thank God she is safe and we are not reading about a tragedy here.

    Comment by evergreen — 7:26 am October 12, 2013 #

  6. Marie, you can see it that way if you want to. I might have seen it through a different lens if not for the fact that there is still no arrest in connection with the reported indecent-exposure/luring-attempt incidents near two local schools recently. Might well be ENTIRELY unrelated but when the decision has to be made about sharing information that might be a vital matter of safety, we will err on the side of sharing information, and being as clear as possible about the circumstances. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:29 am October 12, 2013 #

  7. I agree with Marie. This is fear mongering. This world is not more dangerous than when I was a child and had more freedoms. It is publicizing every strange occurrence that is strangling our children’s freedom and independence.

    Comment by Laura — 8:33 am October 12, 2013 #

  8. I think this is totally relevant and is in no way fear mongering. WS Blog was built on informing the community. I lived in Gatewood for 12 years and it’s a safe, sleepy area. However, deviants like this don’t care and are everywhere. All you have to do is ck the king county sex offender website and see there are tons and tons of sex offenders within 3 miles of this location. If this girl had been kidnapped it would be disastrous. This and the incidents at Hope Lutheran and Holy Rosary are warnings to families. Without the blog no one would know of the danger. This is one of the best ways to deter crime. It’s really sad that a 12 year old cant walk home from a friends house safely anymore. Thank God that dad came home when he did. This freak is still out there hunting his prey, therefore, it is news.

    Comment by Gtwd — 8:49 am October 12, 2013 #

  9. As someone with a 14 year old child, I appreciate this type of reporting. Knowing is half the battle. And this world is a lot more dangerous than it was when I was a kid. There a lot if dangers kids face today that didn’t even exist 20 years ago.

    Comment by Randall — 8:58 am October 12, 2013 #

  10. I disagree. I want to be informed of incidents like this. Fear mongering exaggerates danger, but there was no exaggeration in the reporting, just a reporting of facts, and do what you will with it, hopefully don’t freak out and not let your kids ever leave the house again, if you do, that’s on you, not the reporting. Fear mongering has an element of manipulation, it’s used to get a particular outcome, but there was no other goal it reporting it than informing people, which is the whole point of news.

    Comment by Kae — 8:58 am October 12, 2013 #

  11. I’m on the non-fear mongering side. We have a recent spate of scary events involving one or more persons behaving as sexual predators. While statistically such events are pretty rare, when they do happen and no one is apprehended yet, then it is meaningful for the community to be current on potentially relevant information.

    But Randall – if you think the world is any more dangerous today in this regard than it was 20 or more years ago, I beg to differ. 20 years ago, sexual abuse was mostly an unmentioned topic. This was no doubt because the vast majority of sexual offenses are committed by someone known to the victim, such as a parent, sibling, relative, teacher, coach, clergy, etc. So discussing this topic is difficult. The “bogeyman in the bushes (or in this case, in a car or van)” is rare – less than 5% of sexual offenders. But especially scary because of the utter randomness of the act.

    Sexual offenders were no less prevalent 20 years ago – we just didn’t speak of it then as we do now. It is a step in the right direction.

    Comment by wscommuter — 9:42 am October 12, 2013 #

  12. Thank you, WSB, for the report. I appreciate the information. The facts that the van flashed its lights at the girl and that it sped away when the driver saw the girl’s dad make the situation very suspicious. I appreciate knowing for what to keep an eye out as I am out walking or running.

    Comment by Heidi — 9:45 am October 12, 2013 #

  13. I am curious to know if there are any more details regarding what the van looked like. We live in Gatewood (near the location listed above) and had a suspicious blue van parked in front of our house with an occupant who was sleeping. After feeling uneasy about the situation we called police. When they came, the occupant was gone and the officer ran the license plate to make sure it was not stolen. At approx 8pm we noticed that it drove off. Certainly don’t want to cause fear mongering but I think it is important to keep our eyes open and make sure we are communicating with our neighbors (before calling police we asked our neighbors if they had guests who drove the van).

    Comment by Cgirl — 9:57 am October 12, 2013 #

  14. I grew up in a time when we didn’t lock our doors at nite or when we left the house…but after AnnMarie Burr and 8 year old was stolen from her bedroom by Ted Bundy(perhaps)..things changed. I remember my dad coming into my bedroom after the 11:00 news to hammer my window shut. I remember being “flashed” at the ages of 10 of 16. I remember being told to stay out of the gulch because of the unsavory people who went in an out…but it didn’t stop us. I think we just have more “bad” people today than we use to have, but they do the same “bad things” they always did. It is good to have the WSB here to keep us informed and alert!

    Comment by Cactus — 10:17 am October 12, 2013 #

  15. Not fear mongering at all. As mentioned, upthread, WSB is just reporting facts.

    .

    Wanna complain about fear mongering, and such? Do so to much of the TV media that open a story with overly dramatic music stabs, and “OMGTHESKYISFALLING!!!!!111″ intro dialogue by the News Anchor. Enjoy as they continue with blurred photos of kids around a school, shot presumably from inside the news vehicle, to give the perv’s creepy perspective.

    .

    It’s important to know about these things, reported in a factual manner, not only to be aware of the particular incident, but to remind us to be aware of our surroundings at all times. It’s easy to get complacent.

    .

    Hell, if WSB were the type of media source to report in a manner that instills fear, I wouldn’t be heading down to Westwood in a few minutes, to pick up a few things at Target!

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 10:20 am October 12, 2013 #

  16. There was absolutely no fear mongering in this article. Only information of a 12 year old girl being harassed by some stranger who only left when the kids father came home.
    .
    Fear-Mongering would be what happened in Issaquah to the janitor carrying an umbrella. THAT is fear-mongering. This article only puts out information about a possible child abduction that could potentially save a kid from being abducted or worse.
    .
    With the increase in sex offenders (many who have violations for incidents with minors) living around us all, I find this NEWS helpful. I’d rather be aware of these incidents than living in a box thinking it’s just normal and has ‘always’ been like that. People don’t need to freak out, they just need to be aware.

    Comment by Mike — 10:38 am October 12, 2013 #

  17. Well said miws.

    Comment by Mike — 11:53 am October 12, 2013 #

  18. Thanks, Mike. Same back to you.

    .

    (Oh, and to all; I survived my trip to Target, even though E11 showed up to the Mall, as I was waiting for the bus back home. ;-))

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 12:36 pm October 12, 2013 #

  19. I got to roam free as kid, including the woods and beach in the Arbor Heights area. It was heaven and I had hoped that my kids could have the same experience. This hope was brought to a sudden halt when my son was molested. He was with two friends, but that wasn’t a deterrent. The guy tried to grab all three.

    I don’t think that making these events public is fear mongering. Sadly, it is our reality. True that there were bad guys when I was a kid too, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea to pretend these incidents aren’t real.

    That event was more than 20 years ago and now my son is about to have a daughter. I can guarantee you that he will keep an eye on her.

    Comment by Alan — 5:04 pm October 12, 2013 #

  20. Nothing wrong with getting the word out. That’s the reason I read the blog!
    Thank you!

    Comment by Resident3 — 7:48 pm October 12, 2013 #

  21. wscommuter == Well said.
    WSB — This was an extremely important story to report. Please keep on reporting these types of dangerous incidents.
    Anyone who disregards the dangers in our world today is foolhardy. Everyone needs to take precautions and use common sense. I probably would not let my kids walk after dark — sad but that’s the way it is. Predators have no boundaries.

    Comment by Seattlite — 8:23 pm October 12, 2013 #

  22. Seven years ago we had a neighborhood stalker who would drive through our community until he found young girls walking alone or in groups of 2 or 3. He would then follow them to their destination and would learn where they lived.

    He would add this knowledge to his “route” and cruise by on a regular basis. The girls were often so shaken up they found it difficult to get the license plate–didn’t help that it is now legal to only have one plate.

    We held neighborhood meetings, informed our kids and kept our eyes open and reported every incident to the police. His full license plate was finally reported to the cops when my 15 year old daughter read me the plate while he was stalking her–I love it when technology thwarts criminals! The cops were on it immediately.

    As a community, we kept all the incident numbers provided when a complaint was made. This really helped the cops get a full story of just how bad this guy was and how often he was stalking.

    He disappeared and now I am wondering if he thinks enough time has passed for him to return. The only thing that has changed is the vehicle. WS is a creeps dream land with all the schools, parks, and community centers so close together. We have to be alert when we are out walking and running.

    Comment by jlws83 — 11:52 pm October 12, 2013 #

  23. Does anyone who declares things were safer in the past have any sense of reality? The rate of violence and sex offending has not appreciably changed in decades! My 75 year old mother was followed by a creep when she was a child in small-town Iowa!!! The proportion of people who do bad things is steady across time. Rapists, murderers and abductors are not more prevalent than they were 10, 20, 50 or 100 years ago. These are rare but horrible and frightening occurrences. Please think before you declare your era was safe. It wasn’t any safer just because nothing happened to you. It is not fear mongering to report an incident. It is fear mongering to overgeneralize from the incident and declare an era, an area or an activity (kids walking home) unsafe.

    Comment by D — 12:45 am October 13, 2013 #

  24. D, I did not declare my era safe, but just stated that I enjoyed the illusion that it was. I do remember a teacher telling us to avoid certain parts of the school ground, during the summer. We also had the same “don’t take candy from strangers” rule. So life wasn’t all thought to be rainbows, even if we didn’t know what the dangers were that we were avoiding.

    I tire of people that have ignored all previous parents’ pleas and then come on the news to plea with other parents, “so that it doesn’t have to happen to them”. There will always be those that think they are exempt from what happens to others and they will speak up the loudest when it happens to them.

    I’m not trying to rob your child of their childhood. I’m trying to avoid having it taken from them. I cringe every time that I see a young child walking anywhere, completely on their own.

    Comment by Alan — 11:58 am October 13, 2013 #

  25. I definitely appreciate the info – this is our neighborhood, and there are lot of children around – one of the big draws for us, as we have a young child too. I hope this girl is doing OK – this is an incident she will always remember, don’t belittle it.

    Comment by Sassy — 1:18 pm October 14, 2013 #

  26. I really appreciate the information being out there
    as a 57 year old I remember how frightening it is
    to have those experiences. I too all these years
    later remember just walking to the corner grocery
    about that age down by the Fauntleroy ferry having
    a creep motioning to me to come over to him. I
    was within 2 blocks of home. I never forgot. More
    power to that young girl. She needs support not
    debate.

    Comment by Laura — 12:02 am October 15, 2013 #

  27. I know her, she goes to school with me.

    Comment by Der — 5:11 pm October 24, 2013 #

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