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Minooka Superintendent: District Took Report of Attempted Kidnapping Seriously

Superintendent Al Gegenheimer says the school is taking measures to keep students safe after a 10-year-old student told officials an unknown man dragged him into a corn field.

On Sept. 12, a 10-year-old student at Aux Sable Elementary School in Minooka reported to his mother and later to school officials and Minooka Police that earlier that day, a man emerged from the corn stalks behind the school, put his hand over his mouth and carried him into the field.

Police have since stated that the case is inactive, and that the evidence does not substantiate the boy's statement. But school district administrators say they weren't taking any chances. 

"We took it seriously, we took it as though it happened," Minooka Community Consolidated District 201 Superintendent Al Gegenheimer said."We positioned people back near the cornfield in order to keep kids away."

Patch first reported this story on Thursday.

Since the time of the incident, school officials have taken further steps to keep students safe and to ease parents' minds. Gegenheimer said the father of the boy who said he was a victim of an attempted kidnapping approached school officials and said his son was still afraid. He suggested that the school consider putting a fence between the cornfields and the playground.

"I contacted my building and grounds guy and I said, 'can you put up a snow barricade,'" Gegenheimer said. "My buildings and ground guy said he was going to call the farmer and ask him to cut down the corn."

The corn has now been cut down and school officials are pricing the cost of fencing.

"We’re thinking about putting a fence just down where the playground is," Gegenheimer said. "We're also looking at prices for a cyclone fence.

"We don’t want anybody afraid of anything."

Gegenheimer said they do not intend to enclose the field.

Two other schools in the district are built similarly. But Jones Elementary School has an existing fence between the school and the field.

"At Jones, we have a fence, it's because there is a retention pond back there and we wanted to keep kids away from down there," Gegenheimer said.

Walnut Trails Elementary School does not have a fence.

The mother of the 10-year-old boy does not believe enough has been done to investigate this case or to inform the public.

“These cornfields are everywhere out here and these parents need to know,” she said in an interview with Patch on Thursday. "It’s crazy to me that they are not doing more."

Minooka Police said in an interview with Patch on Thursday that the case is inactive, due to an inability to substantiate evidence.

The inability to substantiate the story also contributed to the choice the school district made when sending out a letter to parents.

"I believe the letter was written and it stated that a child was confronted on school property during the school day," Gegenheimer said. "What we did not say was that a child was grabbed and carried into a corn field because we could not substantiate that."

The letter did include information for parents to pass along to students reminding them of "stranger danger."

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Jennifer October 06, 2012 at 04:21 PM
It sounds to me like the school is taking things seriously. I don't believe 'it's crazy that they are not doing more'. They are doing what they can. This is a farming community and there are fields in common areas, yes. This is not a new thing, parents know this when they choose to live here. We cannot get rid of all the fields all the time, so compromising with barriers and adult monitors, without compromising the safety of children is more than satisfactory. I also agree that part of it is sending home the reminders of talking with your children about strangers, etc. We cannot expect the schools to do everything, just what they can, but part of parenting involves talking to your children about situations and scenarios and reinforcing it now and then with reminders. We cannot become complacent because our community is so safe and has been for so long, you never know when things can change.
Cedgar October 07, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Well said, Jennifer. Plus, how likely is it that a guy with a mask and knee-pads really jumped out of a cornfield and nobody saw it? Either way, glad that everybody is safe. It is funny, though, that the article here says the case is inactive due to evidence supporting the child's claims. A bit confused, perhaps. And Gegenheimer ...
Dawn Aulet (Editor) October 07, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Charles, Thank you. The way that was worded was indeed confusing. I have clarified the story.
Jen Yur October 08, 2012 at 06:04 PM
For one... Why the hell is this considered an "inactive investigation?" I am a mother of a nine year old and I am an alumni of Minooka schools. Yes our cornfields are a staple of our community but that is not an excuse to take something like this seriously. The boy was not lying about this and him being terrified to return to the same area will prove that. Now the big question is that are we as parents and concerned citizens going to brush this off and wait for this crazy guy to build confidence and try again or are we going to put the rest of our community on alert and do something about it and not dismiss this???
Jane Doe October 12, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Jen Yur, well said. Why is it that the only people taking this seriously are parents of young children whose safety is in jeopardy, while the people who are in a position to do something about this (POLICE) are sleeping on the job????? Sorry I forgot to warn my kids that while they're playing at recess, a masked child predator might try to pull you into the corn so be on guard. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THE YEAR IS 2013.
Jane Doe October 12, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Evidence: one adult footprint directly adjacent to a large, gaping hole in the corn exactly where my son said the attempted abduction occurred, a detailed description of the masked suspect provided by my son, school surveillance footage showing my son was the first child to RUN out the school cafeteria doors to recess that day proving he would be vulnerable as one of the first children outside that day. It's a sad day when a child tells authorities he was almost abducted during school recess, and the school officials and police basically call him a liar. Can't wait to relocate.
Jane Doe October 12, 2012 at 04:12 AM
OK, THE YEAR IS 2012. OBVIOUSLY THIS NIGHTMARE HAS TAKEN A TOLL ON ME.
C Foster October 21, 2012 at 03:37 PM
As a mother of two children that attend Aux Sable, I would just like to say that I take this very seriously. Children have active imaginations, but when you look at the facts, it makes compete sense. My daughter has been bullied the entire school year at recess, and not one teacher or authoritative figure took note of this. It would not surprise me that this type of act would go unnoticed. It really surprises me that the Minooka police Dept are not taking this more seriously. They have no issues coming to my door when my dog escapes my yard and investigating why it keeps occurring. This makes me sick, and my heart goes out to the mother of this little boy. Just another tall tale as far as others are concerned...until it happens to them.

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