Victoria boy reports attempted abduction (video)
Sept. 14, 2012 at 4:14 a.m.
Updated Sept. 15, 2012 at 4:15 a.m.
Hayden LaVergne, 9, was riding his bike to deliver invitations to his birthday party Thursday, when a man reportedly attempted to abduct him. Hayden was able to get away and tell his parents what happened. The police were notified and later arrested Michael Joseph Hicks, 60, of Victoria, and was later accused of unlawful restraint of a person under the age of 17, a felony.
Got 2B Safe! Rules
• Check first - Children should always check with parents and guardians before accepting gifts, rides or invitations from anyone, including friends, acquaintances and people they don't know.
• Go with a Friend - Simple and straightforward - never go anywhere alone. Being with another person in public is safer and more fun.
• It's my body - Anyone who violates the sanctity of a child's body or threatens or attempts to do so is committing a crime. Tell your children it is OK to say "No"
• Tell a trusted adult - Teach your children to tell a trusted adult - parent, teacher, etc. - if anyone or anything makes them feel scared, uncomfortable or confused.
SOURCE: NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN
An 8-year-old Victoria boy was delivering birthday party invitations on his bike when an unfamiliar car pulled up behind him and a man rolled down the window.
"He said, 'Come over here,' and then he got out of his car and grabbed the back of my shirt and he tried to get me," said Hayden LaVergne, describing Thursday evening when he was riding his bike like countless times before.
This time, however, Hayden, who turned 9 Saturday, was a block away from his home in the Cimarron Subdivision when he said the man asked him to come to his car.
Hayden refused, and he said the man got out of the car and grabbed his shirt.
"I just leaned forward and wiggled," Hayden said. "And then I just pedaled faster and faster."
Hayden said the man ran back to his car, where two women were waiting, and followed him to the end of the block.
"I was in the garage when he (Hayden) came back ... his face was just white and he was breathing hard," his mom, Janell LaVergne said. "I said, 'Hayden what's the matter?"
Her son described what happened. She then told her husband before getting into her truck to look for the car.
Jason LaVergne, Hayden's dad, stayed at the house and saw the car drive by.
"They passed by and almost stopped right here in front of the house," the dad said. "When I stepped out of the garage, they took off. And he (Hayden) was crying and saying, 'That was it.'"
The parents called the police, who arrived within minutes.
Michael Joseph Hicks, 60, of Victoria, was arrested by Victoria police officers at 8:25 p.m. Thursday. He was charged with unlawful restraint of a person less than 17 years, a felony.
Officers found a car, a blue Nissan Sentra, that matched Hayden's and his parents' descriptions in the 500 block of Taos Street, just a few blocks from Hayden's home, according to the arrest report.
Hicks was standing near the car with two women, Sherry Johnson, 57, of Victoria, and Lezlie Jackson, 48, of Yorktown. who were also arrested. Johnson was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication while Jackson was arrested on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Hicks told police conflicting stories, first saying the boy darted out into the street, according to the arrest report.
He then said he stopped the boy to ask for directions, but denied he got out of the car and grabbed the boy, according to the report.
Hayden's father said the family is in shock and Hayden has been too scared to go outside or ride his bike since the incident.
"He wants you by his side all the time - taking a bath, he is sleeping right between us in our bed, not in his room," his dad said.
Sgt. Eline Moya, spokeswoman for the Victoria Police Department, said the investigation continues.
"As far as we know at this time, this is an isolated incident," Moya said. "We take these calls very seriously. We want to make sure all the loose ends are tied."
Moya, who has been with the department for 12 years, said she does not remember a report like this being filed in Victoria, but she did not have the opportunity to search through records.
Jim McFarland, a neighbor of the LaVergnes and a father of two boys, said he has not heard of an incident like this either.
"I'm horrified. I don't want to let my kids out of the house," he said.
Jason LaVergne said there should be greater awareness about keeping kids safe. Their children, he said, won't be allowed to ride their bikes by themselves anymore.
"Now we are just wondering, what if?" said the dad. "What if they would have gotten him? That is the hard part. We wouldn't have known what car they were in. Where would we have started?"
Hayden, however, finally got all 10 birthday party invitations delivered at school.
He is excited about his birthday on Saturday, when he and his friends will play video games and watch movies all night.
Still, Hayden said he doesn't want to ride his bike by himself anytime soon.