Mother thwarts abduction of 7-year-old outside car in Fairfax City; man arrested

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By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 18, 2010

Once a week, the 7-year-old boy got a treat: a doughnut from 7-Eleven before school. On Wednesday morning, at the 7-Eleven on Main Street in Fairfax City, he hopped out of the car and went to his mother's window for the treat money.

But this time, a man approached and grabbed the boy's arm. "Come on, you're coming with me," the man told the boy.

"No, he's not," his horrified mother said, grabbing the other arm, the mother said in an interview Thursday.

The man wouldn't back off until another customer, a woman, walked over to help. The man took a couple steps back, the woman helped the boy back into the car, and then the man stood in the parking lot until police arrived.

Charles R. Barbour, 47, of Alexandria was arrested and charged with abduction. He was being held in the Fairfax County jail Thursday night with no bond.

The mother said the incident began at about 7:15 a.m., lasted for several strange minutes and traumatized both her 7-year-old and her 4-year-old daughter, who witnessed it from the back seat.

"He was shaking like a leaf" after strapping himself back in the car, his mother said of the boy. After police had arrested the man, "he started screaming and crying, and he wouldn't get out of his seat. He said, 'I'm safe in here.' "

The Washington Post generally does not name crime witnesses or victims.

The boy's sister woke up crying throughout the night Wednesday and didn't want to go into her preschool Thursday. "I don't want to leave" my brother, she told her mother. "That man touched my brother."

The weekly routine for the 7-year-old involved getting doughnut money from his mother, who would then watch through the glass doors as he picked out his pastry and took it to the front counter. But as he waited for the money, the man emerged quickly from a nearby pay phone.

As the mother and the man both held one of the boy's arms, the man kept telling her: "I just want to talk to him. It's all right." Even as the woman picked up her phone and called police, "he just stood there. I kept telling him, 'Take your hands off my child.' I think I was flipping out because he wouldn't move."

People came out of the 7-Eleven, near the intersection of routes 29 and 50 in the Kamp Washington area, but declined to help. The mother called police, and the man stood and listened. The woman in the next parking space over offered to help, walked over, and then the man backed off but continued to circle the car.

Even when the mother used her cellphone to snap a picture of the man, he didn't flee. He was still there when officers arrived.

"I'm grateful that nothing else happened," the mother said. "Because so much else could have happened."

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