WV Mom Charged After Her Kidnapping Story Unravels

Santana Renee Adams initially told police a man grabbed her 5-year-old by the hair
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 6, 2019 6:00 AM CDT
WV Mom Whose Kidnapping Story Changed Is Charged
Santana Renee Adams is escorted into Cabell County Magistrate Court to be arraigned on charges for falsely reporting an emergency incident, Friday, April 5, 2019, in Huntington, W.Va.   (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

A woman who told police that an Egyptian man had tried to kidnap her daughter from a West Virginia shopping mall was jailed Friday after the accusation unraveled, a police detective said. The charge capped a sensational tale of a mother using a gun to thwart a brazen abduction attempt that quickly fell apart amid inconsistencies. Santana Renee Adams initially told police that a man grabbed her 5-year-old daughter by the hair inside a clothing store Monday and tried to pull her away but stopped when Adams produced a gun, authorities said. A criminal complaint went into further detail, describing a frightening scene where a Middle Eastern man dragged the girl by the hair as she dropped to the floor. But the story started to crumble when no witnesses could be found and mall surveillance video didn't match the woman's original statement.

Upon additional questioning, authorities said, Adams began changing her account. She later told investigators she may have overreacted and misinterpreted the man's intentions. Police said he may have simply been patting the girl on the head. On Thursday, authorities announced they were dropping charges against Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, a 54-year-old engineer from Alexandria, Egypt, who was in the area for work. Barboursville Police Detective Greg Lucas said Adams was charged with falsely reporting an emergency incident, a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. The 24-year-old Adams turned herself in about 2pm Friday and was jailed after a magistrate judge set bail at $20,000. Back at the police station, Lucas had a moment to reflect: "It has been a long and sleepless week."

(Read more West Virginia stories.)

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