Multiple Reports of Man Approaching Boys at Florence Park
First a video emerged over the weekend in which a concerned mother warned others that her 18-year old son was allegedly approached by a man who asked him to get inside a vehicle with the promise of money.
The video was viewed more than 50,000 times by mid-week.
On Tuesday, another boy, this one 17 years old, was allegedly approached, too, by a man who matched the same description as the one from the first encounter.
That prompted the second boy's mother, Lisa Jenkins, to speak out, too, in an effort to raise awareness.
"My son backed away and said, no, thank you, and the guy got back in the car and sped off," Jenkins told The River City News on Tuesday evening. She said the man appears to be in his 40s with grayish hair that is balding. He was wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigarette. The vehicle was a newer model Honda Accord with four doors, she said.
Both mothers said there were reports that the car's license plate was partially obstructed by duct tape.
Florence Police showed up both times after the reports emerged from the city's Stringtown Park on Burlington Pike.
"We don't have him identified. Each call, he's already been gone," Florence Police Captain Greg Rehkamp said. "We are out looking for him."
For Jenkins, the alleged encounters are concerning after she relocated her family to Florence where she thought life would be safer. She has six children, five sons and a daughter, ranging in age from one to seventeen.
She is unsure if she can let even the older ones go to the park unsupervised anymore.
"We lived in this neighborhood for fifteen years. I moved my kids to Boone County when I just had one because I wanted the kids to have a better, safer environment with a safer school," Jenkins said. "I never thought anything like this would occur. They have been going to that park all their lives, and I never thought twice about letting them go by themselves.
"And now it's obviously not as safe as I thought it was."
Rehkamp said that police want to talk to the man. He said nothing reported so far is necessarily criminal, but is unusual.
"Is there any danger? I can't say there is," Rehkamp said. "It's definitely creepy. We want to see what he's trying to do up there exactly."
Jenkins said that she doesn't want her kids going to the park alone anymore. "I'm proud of my son for being smart enough to get away from the individual," Jenkins said.
She said that she will remind her sons not to talk to strangers and to be more aware of their surroundings. "And try to get a video or something you can show because nine out of ten times these perverts get away," Jenkins said.
"I did not think this guy would be bold enough to go to the same park twice," she said. "It's definitely a game-changer in my way of thinking."
Anyone with additional information should contact Florence Police.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Stringtown Park (via City of Florence)