Valley News -

By Trevor Montgomery
Writer 

Sex offender arrested after parents thwart attempted kidnap of children, 3 and 4

 

Last updated 3/11/2019 at 6:10pm

Details are beginning to emerge after a registered sex offender tried to snatch two young children from a Lake Elsinore park this morning, Monday, March 11. The incident happened at Rosetta Canyon Sports Park, south of Rosetta Canyon Dr. and Ardenwood Way.

The alleged suspect was reportedly apprehended by several witnesses and citizens – including an off-duty law enforcement officer – who chased the man down after the victims' mother and other witnesses wrestled the children back from the alleged suspect.

Deputies assigned to Lake Elsinore Police Department were first alerted to the attempted abductions around 11:30 a.m., after witnesses called to report the incidents, Riverside Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Fredericks explained after the man's apprehension and arrest. 911 callers told emergency dispatchers that bystanders had managed to chase the alleged suspect down and apprehend him, and that they were detaining him until police arrived.

According to witnesses, a deputy arrived within minutes of the dispatched call and quickly handcuffed the man, later identified as 29 year-old, Lake Elsinore resident, Marcus DeWitt. DeWitt is a registered sex offender, according to Fredericks.

Contacted for more details and information, Fredericks confirmed that deputies investigating the incident determined Dewitt attempted to abduct two small children from a play area at the park.

The two young children, described as three and 4-year-old boys, were at the park with their parents and other family members when Dewitt "tried to grab the 3-year-old male child by the arm," said Fredericks. "The child was partially inside of a play apparatus and DeWitt was unsuccessful."

After failing to snatch the first child, "DeWitt then picked up a 4-year-old male victim and attempted to flee the area with him," Fredericks continued. "The victim's parents and other family members observed the abduction and were able to catch DeWitt and wrestle the child out of his grasp."

After the second failed abduction, DeWitt attempted to flee the park on foot, "but was subdued by a family member of the victim" and other witnesses who managed to chase the man down.

"Additional witnesses and family members detained DeWitt until officers arrived and took him into custody without further incident," said Fredericks.

One parent, Vanessa Mongrut – who was visiting the park and witnessed the attempted abduction – later posted photographs and video of Dewitt's apprehension and arrest on Facebook.

"The little boy is fine," Mongrut explained on social media, saying she and the victims' mother "snatched the boy back from the kidnapper."

"They were fortunate to have an off-duty police officer who happened to be at the park when it was happening," another area resident and witness later commented.

Courtesy photo

Marcus DeWitt.

After Dewitt was in custody, deputies interviewed family members and other witnesses, as well as those who had helped chase the man down, before transporting him to Lake Elsinore PD for further interviews and investigation.

Neither child was injured during the ordeal and both were returned to their respective families.

After being processed, DeWitt will be booked at the Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on kidnapping and other related charges, according to Fredericks. As of this report, DeWitt had not yet been booked into jail.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Investigator Matt Posson of the Lake Elsinore Police Department at (951) 245-3300. Callers can refer to incident file number L190700043 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff's CrimeTips online form.

 

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