FORT WORTH, Texas – An 8-year-old girl snatched in broad daylight into a passing car while walking with her mother outside Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday was back with her family Sunday after being found safe some eight hours later at a hotel with her alleged abductor.
Police said 51-year-old Michael Webb was arrested on an aggravated kidnapping charge and was arraigned Sunday. He was being held without bond.
Surveillance video from a home in the Fort Worth suburb of Forest Hill showed Salem Sabatka being taken, reports CBS Dallas.
Her mother tried desperately to hold on, jumping into the car after her daughter but, police said, she was pushed out as the car sped off with Salem. Her mother was left on the ground in a panic.
Police issued a statewide Amber Alert and posted pictures on social media of Salem and the car the suspect was driving, asking for the public’s help.
Later that night, police received a tip from two local church members who went out looking for Salem.
The tip led authorities to a nearby hotel where, around 2:30 a.m., they found the vehicle and forced their way into the room where they found Webb and Salem.
Policed hailed the two church members as heroes.
Salem was taken to a local hospital.
Officers said she was calm and appeared to be in good condition.
Last year, Webb was facing charges of sexual and aggravated assault in Texas but the case was dismissed when prosecutors said the alleged victim became uncooperative.
Hundreds of grateful community members gathered Sunday, joining police to celebrate Salem’s safe return.
Tim Keith led a neighborhood walk to celebrate her return with the grateful community.
“This is a very tight-knit community,” Keith said. “When anything comes up in this neighborhood that’s out of the ordinary, you see the citizens of this neighborhood band together very quickly.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price took part in the walk and hugged residents, sharing in their joy.