Lots of calls to authorities come after sketch of child-luring man

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Release of a sketch of a man said to have tried to lure children to his white van has prompted several calls, including from Port Angeles and Sequim, but no suspects have been identified, according to police.

“We are still plugging away at this and checking out every lead,” said Port Townsend Police Sgt. Joe Kaare.

“But there is a chance we never will see him again,” he said. “If he came here from out of the area [to lure children], he might never come back.”

Kaare said one call came from Port Angeles last week. When police tracked down the man named, they determined he was not involved.

A white van was reported in Sequim recently, Kaare said.

Two 11-year-old students reported separate instances this month of being approached by a man in a white van as they rode their bicycles to Blue Heron Middle School.

A man offered candy to a boy Oct. 2 and told a girl Oct. 9 that her mother wanted him to give her a ride to school.

The boy turned down the candy and took off, and the girl asked the man her mother’s name; when he couldn’t tell her, she fled.

The two reports were of incidences a week apart — both Wednesdays and both at about 8 a.m.

No other luring incidents have been reported.

A sketch was published Oct. 18 and distributed to law enforcement agencies throughout the region, according to Officer Luke Bogues, Port Townsend police spokesman.

At about 11 a.m. Monday, a white van fitting the published description was spotted in Sequim near 300 W. Fir St.

The van was seen near Helen Haller Elementary School and the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.

Sequim Police Sgt. Sean Madison said a witness supplied a license plate number “that appears to be a good plate” that was forwarded to Port Townsend police.

Kaare said the plate number had not been received and could be in the email of Officer Devin McBride, who was off Tuesday.

Madison said no one reported seeing the driver.

The driver was described as wearing an Oakland A’s baseball cap and having scruffy white facial hair, a gauged plug-style earring in his right ear and missing his front teeth, according to Ashton Hoye, the boy approached Oct. 2.

The boy was identified to the Peninsula Daily News by his mother, Shannon Callahan.

Police did not identify either of the children who were approached by the man.

Ashton, who provided the description used in the sketch by King County Sheriff’s Office Detective Robin Fry, was scheduled for a follow-up interview last week, but it was postponed, his mother said.

Helen Haller Principal Russ Lodge said he has fielded several reports of white vans in the area since the reports of luring were made public.

“It seems like people are seeing a lot more white vans these days,” Lodge said.

“And there are a lot of white vans out there.”

Investigators are asking members of the public to examine the police sketch closely.

If the man looks familiar, reports can be made by phoning McBride at 360-390-8938.

If a suspicious person or van is spotted in the area of children, dial 9-1-1, police have said.

________

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.



Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie contributed to this report.

Last modified: October 29. 2013 6:17PM
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