Teen Disguised as Muslim Charged In Abuction 5 Year-Old Girl
A 19-year-old daycare worker has been charged with the kidnapping and rape of a 5-year-old girl who was abducted from her elementary school after the woman allegedly claimed to be the girl’s mother.
Police say Christina Regusters covered herself in a black Muslim veil, similar to one the girl’s mother wears, when she pulled the child from her Philadelphia classroom last month and walked her to a nearby home.
Regusters, who worked at an after-school care program the girl attended, is charged with kidnapping, rape, conspiracy, aggravated assault and several related offenses according to police.
The girl was discovered shivering half-naked on a playground about a mile from the school the morning after her abduction on January 14.
The girl told a passerby, ‘I’ve been stolen’ and repeatedly spoke of a talking bird inside the home that would ‘peck her eyes out’ if she didn’t stay hiding under a bed, philly.com reports.
That talking bird proved crucial in police’s investigation, said Attorney Tom Kline who’s representing the girl and her mother.
Regusters, who told the child her name was Tiffany, was one of four residents questioned on Thursday at the home several blocks from Bryant Elementary School in west Philadelphia. The other three were released.
The investigation is very much active and ongoing,’ said Special Victims Unit Capt. John Darby at a news conference on Thursday. The girl retraced her steps with police, leading them to the home with the bird according to authorities.
‘This brave, innocent precious little girl was instrumental in leading police literally to the door of the crime,’ said Kline in an interview on Friday.
She told them that there was a bird in the house. The bird became one of the many focal points of the investigation,’ he added. Kline said the girl suffered ‘terrible, horrible injuries’ and that the family was ‘grateful’ for the arrest, but knows it isn’t the end of the line.
Investigators believe after the suspect and victim successfully walked a few blocks to the home a man was waiting.
The child was blindfolded, told to remove her clothes and put on a black, adult-sized T-shirt, and then ordered to hide under a bed, authorities said. DNA on that shirt is said to have been found connected to something in the house.
‘There is still more work to be done,’ Kline said adding that there were clearly additional people involved. ‘We are watching anxiously the next developments because this is not the end of the line.’
Regusters’ attorney, W. Fred Harrison Jr., told WCAU-TV Regusters had ‘no involvement’ in the crime.
Authorities believe she was dumped about 18 hours later at the park before found by a passerby who hear her screaming.
The child was hiding under a jungle gym play set around 4.40am and it was unclear how long she had been outside. She was freezing, as it was about 37 degrees outside and damp from rain the night before.
Nelson Mandela Myers who found her that morning said he asked where her parents were.
‘She said, “I don’t know. Somebody was chasing me. I ran,” Myers said. ‘She said she came from South Philly. I knew something was wrong, because I knew she couldn’t have run from South Philly.’
‘As he starts to walk to where the screams are, a little girls runs out,’ Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood told Philly.com. ‘She said, “I ran away, I ran away from the people who took me.”‘
The child was immediately taken to a nearby hospital to get checked out.
News of the girl’s abduction sent waves through both the community and the school where the girl was successfully released to the woman without photo ID shown.
About a week after the principal at the school was removed among four people held responsible for the horrific ordeal.
District officials said the incident violated school procedure, which requires anyone signing a child out of school to show ID and be on a list of as a verified parent or guardian.
Allowing the girl to leave school with an unknown adult was a ‘serious break in procedure,’ District spokesman Fernando Gallard said.
The woman didn’t wait at the school’s front office, as is policy, but went to Robinson’s classroom and told a teacher that the child had already been ‘checked out’ of school.
Robinson was not reported as missing until 3 p.m., when a caretaker from the child’s after-school program came to pick her up.
Her mother appeared on local media tearfully pleading for her safe return, and explaining how she also wears the traditional chador and niqab – the type of clothing that Robinson’s abductor was wearing.