Two boys who reported an April 11 kidnapping attempt in Fort Mill made up the tale so they could skip school, the York County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.
Sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris said detectives began to suspect the attempted abduction was a lie when stories told by the boys, ages 7 and 10, did not match. He also said K-9 units searched the area and did not find any tracks for the suspect.
“After interviews with witnesses, talking with the two boys involved and through the boys’ own confession, detectives discovered there was no attempted kidnapping on the morning of April 11, 2016,” Faris said in a statement Wednesday morning.
Ten-year-old Michael Husky and his 7-year-old cousin reported that a man tried to grab them about 7:45 a.m. April 11 as they were walking to school at Fort Mill’s Pleasant Knoll Elementary, Husky’s mother, Terrie Ruff, told The Herald after the incident.
Ruff told The Herald the boys burst through the door of her home that morning in a panic, crying and shaking, saying “somebody just tried to get us.”
Deputies were told the suspect was carrying a device with knives. Faris said what appeared to be a Leatherman multi-tool device with knives built in, which officers located on the scene, had been “found earlier by the children.”
Faris said an adult who falsely reported such an incident would probably be charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 or up to 30 days in jail. But he said no charges would be filed against the boys.
“It’s a good lesson for everybody,” Faris said. “Never is it a good time to falsely accuse anyone of any crime. ... We hope these boys learn their lesson.”
Terrie Ruff had little to say about her son’s hoax after answering the door at her home Wednesday. She said, “He’s been punished by me and his dad.”
“It’s just a lot to take in right now… and trying to be a mom,” Ruff said with tears in her eyes. “My nerves are stretched. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
Ruff said her son was in school Wednesday.
Faris said York County detectives and deputies “have worked countless hours over the last week to find answers” after the attempted abduction was reported.
Fort Mill school leaders sent separate emails Wednesday morning to Pleasant Knoll parents and to parents and staff members across the district to let them know the attempt did not happen.
“While this incident is unfortunate, we are grateful to learn our students were not in danger,” Pleasant Knoll Principal Grey Young wrote in an email to parents. The incident had prompted a brief lockdown at the school.
Young also said: “In this case, our students made a mistake, but as their school family, we support their learning and understanding and will use this experience as a teaching point when talking with all students about decision-making and how to respond accordingly.”
Faris said the sheriff’s office “would like to thank the citizens of Fort Mill for their attentiveness and efforts to help us solve this case.”
Authorities said the case “should also be made into a good lesson for parents and children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has many resources parents can use to help talk with their children.”
Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077