Grundy County authorities are investigating an attempted abduction after a 14-year-old girl tells them she was accosted while walking on a road west of Dike a little before 4 P.M. yesterday (Monday) afternoon. Sheriff Rick Penning says she’s told them a man stopped his car and tried to force her into it. Sheriff Penning says the car was an older maroon car with Illinois license plates, and the driver, a man about six feet tall and over 250 pounds, asked if she wanted a ride. When she declined, he got out of the car and tried to grab her but another vehicle came along along the road and “obviously thwarted his attempt,” the sheriff says. The suspect got back into his car and drove off westward. The sheriff says investigators trying to find the suspect don’t have much to go on. The sheriff says they have no leads besides the girl’s description of the car and man, but are working with other law-enforcement agencies to see if any similar incidents have occurred. The 14-year-old is a student at Dike-New Hartford High School and says she was walking home from classes when it happened. Sheriff Penning says she was lucky. Penning says since he physically tried to grab her and she didn’t suffer any injuries, she’s fortunate. “You always think that this is something that’s going to happen somewhere else, the big cities, not here in rural Iowa,” he says, but reminds people they have to be aware at all times. Penning notes there’s a renewed focus on abduction cases in the state of Iowa, with the death late in March of Jetseta Gage, a ten-year-old Cedar Rapids girl taken and killed by a friend of her mother. Abductions, and attempts, are high-priority cases, mainly because they involve young children. He says law-enforcement agencies devote all the manpower and time they can, and bring them to the public’s attention. Lawmakers try to write legislation protecting citizens, the courts rule in ways that “aren’t always in our favor,” he notes, but despite an uphill battle at times everyone does what they can.
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