Mom credits code word with saving daughter from abduction


PINAL COUNTY, Arizona (NBC) – The mother of a 10-year-old Arizona girl who escaped a possible kidnapper is speaking out and sharing the one thing that may have saved her daughter’s life. 

Shaken up, Brenda James thinks about what could have happened to her 10-year-old daughter. “She’s still really upset. She didn’t want to go to school today. She’s still real scared,” said James.

After playing at the park in her quiet San Tan Valley neighborhood, her daughter started to make the short walk home, when a white SUV pulled up alongside her. The man inside delivered a disturbing message.

“He told her that her brother had been in a serious accident and that she needed to come with him.”

The 10-year-old had a bad feeling and followed her gut. She asked the driver for the ‘code word’ – a password she created with her parents to know if a stranger is safe.

“We actually just came up with it a few months ago so it was something real recent from a story that I read,” said James.

The man didn’t know it so the girl took off, getting away.

“I never thought it would be used and I’m very proud of her for remembering that.”

The young girl is safe but is scared. Neighbors whose kids frequent the park are too, because that man is still out there.

Pinal County Sheriff’s officials say the description is vague. They are asking parents to use this close call as a lesson. “It’s not just online. Make sure your kids are aware that strangers can be dangerous anywhere.”

“In case of an emergency we came up with a code word and this one time it saved my daughter’s life,” said James.

That young girl has an older brother, so their mom doesn’t know if the mystery man guessed right, or if he had been watching her.

If something like this ever happens in your neighborhood  investigators ask that you report it right away.

10 On Your Side wants to know if you had a code word when you were a child or if you use one now with your family? Answer our Facebook poll at this link.

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