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Baby Sitter Fights Off Man Who Grabbed Toddler

March 20, 1995

VALLEJO, Calif. (AP) _ A baby sitter was hailed as a hero for twice pulling a 15-month-old girl from the arms of a would-be kidnapper.

Stephanie Watts, 18, was caring for Kelsey Tigh and Kelsey’s 3-year-old sister while waiting at a school bus stop Friday, when a man walked up and snatched Kelsey from the stroller, Watts said.

She pulled the girl out of his arms and fled to a nearby house.

The owner refused to let her in, saying later she thought it was a domestic squabble. Watts said she hovered over the two girls, keeping her back to the man.

``He told me if I didn’t give her to him, he’d kill us,″ Watts said.

When the school bus arrived, the driver told Watts to get on. But the attacker blocked the door and grabbed Watts. The bus driver then called police.

The man snatched Kelsey again, but Watts pulled the baby back. When police arrived they arrested Tony Bankhead, 33, on suspicion of kidnapping.

His brother told police Bankhead had a history of mental instability.

The children’s mother, Robin Tigh, said the baby sitter had a special bond with the family in this city just north of Oakland.

``It takes more than just `thank you,′ but `I love you.′ Stephanie is a hero,″ Tigh said.

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