Fashion scare: Cops credit tipsters in Palmyra man's arrest
The multi-day saga of a mystery man accused of attempting to snatch a two-year-old away from her parents at a local shopping mall reached a major milestone Thursday, as community tips apparently led investigators to arrest a 46-year-old Palmyra man.
Albemarle Police reported that on November 29 they arrested James Kevin Key and charged him with one count of abduction, a felony offense.
The incident, which occurred on Saturday the 24th of November, sparked widespread outrage after the public learned that the rented security detail at Charlottesville Fashion Square allowed the man to leave the premises despite taking the child and then, as Thursday's release revealed, "walking away from her parents."
Parents and security experts expressed shock and puzzlement as the mall, owned by a large firm called Simon Properties, declined to offer an explanation. The situation heated up when Simon began deleting comments posted to its Facebook and even taking its own Facebook page offline for about a day.
Talk of boycotts and other community outrage seemed to eventually change Simon's tack. At 9:02pm on Tuesday the 27th, under a posting about holiday gift cards, a pointed question about deleting comments was posed by a Hook reporter. Two days later, the question was still unanswered, but it was not deleted.
Ditto for the hour-later comment from FB user John Hetzel who wrote, "You're talking about gift cards, we're talking about covering up heinous felonies on your property."
Eventually, the security firm– Pennsylvania-based security AlliedBarton– tried to tamp down the furor by releasing its own statement claiming that the family of the girl was "satisfied with our response and the action taken."
Since AlliedBarton failed to make note of the identity of the alleged attacker, the police and the public stepped in.
"With situations like this, we rely on our partnership with the public to provide us with leads and information," says the Albemarle Police Department in its post-arrest release.
On Tuesday the 27th the police released pixellated images from a jewelry store's surveillance cameras to give the public an idea of the suspect's appearance and asked for community tips.
"In this case, that information led us to Key and ultimately, to his arrest," says the release. "We appreciate all the tips and believe this shows how important the community is in helping us solve crimes."
Key is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. His bond hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1:30pm in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.