Zion-Benton News

Kids do right thing, thwart potential child abductor

Ginny Skweres
Zion-Benton News staff

Four girls avoided being abducted in the 39100 Block of Welsh Lane, Beach Park last week.

Henry Wright, 29, of the 25000 Block of Lake Villa approached the girls, who were between the ages of 4 and 8 years old, and asked them if they wanted a ride around 5 p.m. He was driving a Black 2010 Toyota Camry.

The children told him no and ran from him. Wright then chased them. The girls were able to run away from Wright unharmed. One of the girls told her mother who was able to provide Wright's license plate to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

While searching for Wight, the Sheriff's Office received a report of a hit and run accident at Wadsworth and Delaney roads, involving Wright's vehicle. The Waukegan Police Department located the vehicle at Yorkhouse and Delaney roads and turned him over to deputies from Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Wright was charged with four counts of Felony Class 1 attempted aggravated kidnapping and four counts of Felony Class 4 child abduction. He was also issued traffic citations for failure to reduce to avoid an accident, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, failure to give aid or information and no insurance.

Wright is in the Lake County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond and is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. on May 3.

Sheriff Curran commends the quick thinking of the children. "I think the lessons of stranger danger are worth repeating," Sheriff Mark C. Curran Jr. said.

Beach Park Mayor John Hucker recognized the police work at the village board meeting. "Thanks to Sheriff Curran and his team, and the Waukegan Police Department for their fantastic job. Their response was very quick."

He also credited the girls for their reaction to the event. "The kids were well-trained in stranger-danger. We live in a broken world with sick people in it. I'm so glad we're here talking about a capture and not something else," Mayor Hucker said.

A few days after the attempt in Beach Park, Thomas Chmura, 57, a Benedictine monk, tried to abduct a 14-year-old girl in Antioch. He had pulled his car alongside the girl and wanted to give her a ride. She ran off but was able to give police a description of the man and his car. Police later saw a matching car abruptly pull alongside some girls who were walking. He managed to slip away but not before the officer got his license plate number. Chmura was later stopped on Route 83 and arrested.

He was charged with Felony Class 4 child abduction and disorderly conduct. Bond was set at $50,000.

Telling children
"One easy way for children to remember it is run, yell, tell.” Sheriff Mark Curran said. “Generally, older people who are well intentioned will not pull up to make inquiries of small children. Hence, children should never get close to a car of an adult that they don't know.

“Parents can continue to have conversations with their children to discuss possible scenarios. Unfortunately, it is necessary that they let children know there are evil people in the world and they need to be careful," Sheriff Curran said.