Police: Philly Girl Found Alive
DAVID B. CARUSO
Jul. 24, 2002
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:SLP101-072302; AUDIO:%)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A 7-year-old girl who authorities said had been abducted from in front of her home was found Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after her disappearance, and appeared to be unharmed, police said.
Sgt. Keith Brown said the girl, Erica Pratt, was with police Tuesday night. Brown said she was found at a home in northern Philadelphia, but he had no other details.
Police said they would release more details at a news conference Tuesday night.
Erica was playing Monday evening with her 5-year-old sister in front of their grandmother's rowhouse in southwest Philadelphia when two men drove up, called her by name and dragged her into their car as she screamed and resisted, witnesses told police said.
Less than 20 minutes later, Erica's grandmother received the first of at least six calls from a man who threatened to kill the girl unless he received a $150,000 ransom, police said.
During one of the calls, shortly before midnight, police said the kidnappers put Erica on the phone and allowed her to speak briefly with her grandmother.
Earlier Tuesday, police had said they were seeking to question two men who know the girl's family. It wasn't immediately clear late Tuesday if authorities were still searching for the men.
Residents said many adults in the neighborhood were down the street at a block party at the time of the abduction. The area is pockmarked with abandoned buildings and roamed at night by drug dealers.
Erica's mother, Serena Gillis, had pleaded for her safe return.
``Do not harm her,'' Gillis said. ``She's just beginning her life.''