Report of abduction in Homewood-Penn Hills area was hoax

Unclear if student will face charges


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Dozens of police officers swarmed the Homewood-Penn Hills area for several hours Tuesday in search of a teenage girl who was reported abducted at a school bus stop -- only to discover that the witness made it up.

City police investigated the report and determined Tuesday night that it was a hoax, Pittsburgh Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus said.

"We believe her entire report was false," he said.

The 13-year-old student at Linton Middle School in Penn Hills had told police an older African-American girl stepped off a school bus near Frankstown Road, and that a heavy-set white man approached her and put his arm around her mouth, Lt. Kraus said. The witness told police the man then dragged the girl up Texas Street and into a van against her will.

Whether the girl will be charged is unclear, Lt. Kraus said.

"We will consult with the district attorney to see how to proceed from this point," he said.

Alan Ricketts, the witness' father, said his daughter called him in a panic from her cell phone Tuesday afternoon.

He said she told him that she had exited her school bus at a stop across the street from their house in the 8800 block of Frankstown Road around 2:40 p.m. She said the girl had exited another bus at a stop nearby when the man snatched her.

Mr. Ricketts said his daughter told him the girl used her hands to make gestures that his daughter interpreted as her trying to ask for help.

"She was so startled she couldn't move," he said. "I just told her to run and get into the house."

Mr. Ricketts said he stayed on the line with his daughter as she reached the house and called 911. He rushed home and arrived there minutes later.

His daughter gave police detailed descriptions of the girl and abductor.

After police confirmed the incident was a hoax, Mr. Ricketts did not answer a call for comment.

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Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. Taryn Luna: tluna@post-gazette.com. First Published February 13, 2013 5:00 AM


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