Saturday, January 03, 2009

McDonald's Employee in Olympia Thwarts Kidnapping Attempt on Child

by Michele Johansen & Lexie Tigre Seattle Story

excerpted from Seattle:

On December 19, 18 year-old Serenity LaChappelle saved a little girl from an attempted kidnapping at a McDonald's in Olympia. The story begins earlier that morning when Sheila Brown left her two children, Kasia, who is 8, and Devon, who is 10, at the Olympia library. Brown was in the process of moving her family to a homeless shelter in Olympia from one in Tacoma. Due to the snow, the library closed early and then Devon and Kasia went to the McDonald's across the street to wait for their mother.

While at the front counter, police allege that Richard Earl Knauss went up to the two kids and grabbed the girl on her shoulder. He instructed her to go with him but the young girl refused. She looked to LaChappelle, a McDonald's employee, for help and insisted she did not know the man. LaChappelle recalls, "She looked at me and she goes, 'I don't know him. I don't know him.'" LaChappelle then said to Knauss, "Sir. She says she does not know you. Please don't touch her." And with that, LaChappelle struggled with Knauss but was able to pull the girl over the counter to safety and then pulled her brother over as well.

Knauss ran away but was quickly found by police. He denied involvement and claimed he was not even at McDonald's. He later recanted his story but has pleaded not guilty to second-degree kidnapping.

It was heartwarming to read about LaChappelle's bravery, since it seems rare that situations such as these make the news. I know it is tempting to look at this and automatically look to the mother and judge her actions. Yes, these children are young and were left alone. Times hard, people, and I ask you to remember that she and her family were moving to a homeless shelter. Instead of focusing on that, think about LaChappelle and be thankful there really are heroes among us.

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