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Police chief: Facebook chatter slows 'abduction' investigation
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MONROE - Online rumors have "clouded" a police investigation into two recent alleged incidents of child enticement in the city.

Police are on a lookout for a green sedan related to the investigation, but Monroe Chief of Police Fred Kelley said there is no evidence to back up many of the rumors circulating on Facebook and in the community of abduction or kidnapping attempts around the region.

"We just don't have enough real facts to ascertain what's going on," Kelley said.

Brooke Bauman, alder of Ward 2, has seen and heard the rumors as well.

"It's become viral," she said. "All over the area now, people are saying they saw this green car."

As of Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 29, Kelley said he was not aware of any other documented cases involving a green car in surrounding communities.

Bauman said she called Kelley on behalf of her constituents for more information. She's urging anyone with concerns to do the same before spreading gossip or posting reports on social media.

"We don't want to create mass hysteria," she said. "If people have concerns, they need to ask questions and they need to ask the police those questions."

Officers with the Monroe Police Department have collected the following information:

• A mother called police at 8:40 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, to report that earlier in the evening, the father of her children saw a dark green sedan with dark-tinted windows and four occupants stop in the 1800 block of 10th Street.

A woman reportedly got out of the car and asked a 4-year-old girl outside playing if she was OK. The father, who was across the street at the time, yelled at the vehicle, and the woman got back in the car.

Officers searched the area for the vehicle but didn't locate it.

"This report is complicated by the fact that the police were not notified until an hour after the incident, and then by the other parent," Kelley wrote in a release about the investigation.

• At 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, police took a report that the male driver of a green sedan stopped earlier that morning to ask a 7-year-old girl in the 600 block of 17th Avenue if she needed a ride home, after pulling into a driveway near her. She ran off and went home.

The girl told police her family had discussed what they'd heard about Saturday's incident with her over the past few days and cautioned her to watch out for a green car and be careful.

She told police she'd subsequently had a nightmare involving a green car, according to Kelley.

Kelley said the girl's account "could be tainted" by what she heard.

The Wednesday incident "is again complicated," according to Kelley, "by the fact that prior to calling police, a male resident of the girl's home and a group of children walked around the neighborhood looking for the vehicle.

"The common factor is a green car," Kelley said, adding that police are continuing to investigate the incidents and any possible connection.

He's frustrated by posts on Facebook that he says have included "many unsubstantiated, inaccurate and exaggerated statements."

The rumors are making it hard for police to do their job, according to Kelley.

"The investigation has been hampered by the many versions of the incidents being told on Facebook and other social media, prompting phone calls, and tying up law enforcement resources," he said.

Bauman is likewise concerned.

"This shows what Facebook can do," she said. "To me, the bigger picture is, 'Look what Facebook has done.'"