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Mom Says Man Tried to Kidnap Girl. Then the Story Changed

Man jailed, then released in West Virginia
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2019 11:10 AM CDT
Shoppers make their way past the Old Navy store in the Crossgates Mall on Dec. 26, 2018, near Albany, NY.   (Paul Buckowski/The Albany Times Union via AP)

(Newser) – A mother initially said an Egyptian man tried to kidnap her daughter from a West Virginia mall, but he was released from jail after she changed her story the following day. The mother and 5-year-old were shopping at Old Navy in the Huntington Mall in Barboursville on Monday night when the incident unfolded; police say it appears the whole thing was spurred by Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan patting the child's head, leading to a "cultural misunderstanding." The girl's mother initially told police Zayan tried to drag her daughter away by the hair and she pulled out a gun to scare him off, WSAZ reports.

Zayan, 54, was charged with attempted abduction and jailed on a $200,000 bond. But no witnesses to the alleged incident could be found, and video surveillance appeared to show a different story, police say, per WOWK. During a subsequent interview, the mother admitted she may have misinterpreted the situation and overreacted. Cabell County prosecutors reduced Zayan's bond so he could be released after the mother's story changed, and he got out Tuesday night, emotional and crying as he reunited with his family. The original charge was expected to be dropped, but police say he could possibly still face a battery charge. It's not clear whether the mother will face any charges. (A female American tourist has been abducted in Uganda.)

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