Police searched the motel room of a Texas man suspected of kidnapping an eight-year-old girl but didn’t see the child there just two hours before she was found inside, according to authorities.
Michael Webb, 51, is charged with aggravated kidnapping after authorities say he snatched Salem Sabatka as she walked with her mother Saturday night in Fort Worth.
The child was found in the early hours of Sunday at the hotel in the nearby Forest Hill area.
The Star-Telegram reports Forest Hill officers even questioned the man after a clerk at the hotel called police around five and a half hours after Salem was reported missing, but they left when they didn’t see the child.
They were said to have knocked on the door before eventually speaking with Webb through the door and gaining entry.
Officers returned at about 2 a.m. Sunday after receiving another tip and found the girl inside the room. Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis says the department is looking into the officers’ handling of the earlier call.
Michael Webb is charged with aggravated kidnapping after authorities say he snatched Salem Sabatka as she walked with her mother Saturday night in Fort Worth
Authorities say police visited the motel room at the WoodSprings Suites where Salem was discovered but didn’t see the child, who was eventually found safe about two hours later
A release states: ‘They [the clerk] said they saw him earlier and that he had a girl with him.
‘She then directed them to Michael Webb’s room on the third floor. Michael Webb was less than cooperative, but after several minutes, the officers were permitted to step into the room and look.
‘Upon entry into the room, the officers made visual inspection of the areas of the room that appeared to be large enough to conceal the missing child.
‘They did not locate any other occupants inside the room. With no one located and no other information available, the officers cleared the scene.
‘The child was located with Michael Webb a short time later.’
The suspect’s vehicle was not spotted in the car park of the WoodSprings Suites hotel during the first search, authorities say.
Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis said: ‘As with any major incident, we’re reviewing our handling of the incident and trying to determine if there’s anything we could do better.’
Heart-wrenching surveillance video from a nearby home showed Salem’s mother jumping into the vehicle and desperately trying to save her daughter
The map above shows the roughly eight miles between where Salem was abducted at approximately 6.38pm Saturday and where she was found hours later in a hotel room
An Amber Alert issued after Salem’s abduction described the suspect as a ‘light skinned black male of skinny build’ and the car as a dark gray four-door sedan with alloy wheels
Jeff King, Pastor at Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller, went out looking for Salem Sabatka after she was kidnapped on Saturday
The youngster had been out on a walk with her mother Saturday evening in Fort Worth’s Ryan Place neighborhood when a man grabbed the girl and put her in his car.
Heart-wrenching surveillance video showed Salem’s mother jumping into the vehicle and desperately trying to save her daughter before the kidnapper shoved her out and drove off.
An Amber Alert was issued for Salem, who is 4’5″, shortly after her abduction, describing the suspect as a ‘light skinned black male of skinny build’ and the car as a dark gray four-door sedan with alloy wheels.
The alert included a photo of Salem wearing the same shirt she had on when she was taken.
The youngster had been out on a walk with her mother Saturday evening in Fort Worth’s Ryan Place neighborhood when the suspect, pictured, is accused of grabbing the girl and putting her in his car
Two citizens reported seeing a car that matched the Amber Alert description in the parking lot of the WoodSprings Suites hotel in Forest Hill and contacted authorities.
Jeff King, Pastor at Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller, said ‘divine intervention’ led him to the motel.
‘God literally led us to this place. It was not on my itinerary, I was not trying to go there, we just drove by. It was divine intervention, 100 per cent,’ he said.
King called police and it was just a matter of time before they figured out Salem was inside of the hotel and they were able to rescue her.
‘I was sitting at home with my wife when a friend texted and said that our friends’ daughter had been kidnapped. All I could think is what are we going to do to help?’ King told NBC DFW.
He and a friend searched until after midnight when they got a tip from someone that they should check out a hotel in Forest Hill.
After searching the car park at the tip-off location they found no sign of the suspect’s car.
But, purely by chance, the pair then pulled into the Wood Springs Suites hotel nearby and saw one which fitted the description.
‘It was a crazy moment. I asked police, ‘Did I hear that right? Did they find her? Is she safe?’ he said. ‘Then finally one officer said, ‘Yes sir, they have her.’
Officers dispatched to the hotel determined which room the suspect was staying in and breached the door.
Police allowed King to be the one to call Salem’s parents and tell them the little girl had been found alive.
Salem was reportedly found in good condition but was taken to a local hospital to be checked out, Officer Buddy Calzada said at the press conference early Sunday.
The abduction took place at approximately 6.38pm Saturday.
Surveillance video from a nearby home showed Salem’s mother tumbling out of the vehicle after attempting to pull her daughter to safety.
The car sped off and the mother immediately dialed 911, screaming: ‘Help me please, someone call the police, my daughter just got kidnapped.’
Police thanked the public for spreading the information about the suspect, which ultimately allowed them to bring Salem home.
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