Memphis police officers arrested 20-year-old Larry Ward for allegedly hitting an 11-year-old girl with his SUV, abducting her, and raping her, before throwing her in a ditch, according to Fox 13 Memphis.
At around 7 a.m. on Monday, a girl – whose name has been withheld due to legal reasons – was walking to Geeter Middle School when a man hit her with his dark-colored SUV, which is believed to be a "Kia Sorrento or Hyundai Tucson with the driver side rear light broken."
The man reportedly got out of his SUV and abducted the girl, placing her inside of his vehicle and driving off. It was not immediately clear where the sexual assault took place, but the girl told Memphis police that he raped her before leaving her in a ditch near Delta and Mason Roads.
She was taken to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital for treatment but has since been released.Her father, whose name has not been released to the public, told reporters that after being hit by the SUV, the girl was unable to walk, but is doing better now and walking on her own.
"That broke my heart to imagine that a little innocent 11-year-old girl on the way to school was brutally attacked by anyone," said MPD Director Mike Rallings. "I'm glad that we worked again to bring that family some closure."
Lt. Col. Gregory Sanders, who is with the Memphis Police Department, stated that "he's our top priority. I mean, anytime you have anything like that happening with juveniles, kids on the way to school. Kids are our prized possession."
After an hours-long search, Memphis police were able to make an arrest. Ward was located just two miles from where the kidnapping took place, after an SUV matching the girl's description was found – his physical appearance and clothes matched her description as well.
Ward was arrested on charges of "rape, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault."
The victim's mother, who has not been named, stated that the incident "was terrifying. All I could think of was my baby. This is something new to me because my baby walks home from school all the time and it's just a shock."
She told reporters that it was the second time her daughter had walked to school since it was far from where they lived.Warning other parents, she said to "just be aware of your surroundings and just watch out for your children going to school in the morning. It's not safe out here."
The woman is now seeking justice for her daughter, telling reporters "that's all I want to see right now." Initially, after learning that her daughter had been raped while walking to school and throw in a ditch, she thought she was be going to jail because of what she might do to her daughter's alleged rapist.
She said, "Didn't you see the innocence in her face, can you tell she was still a baby."
"We never had issues like that over here. Never ever. Not issues about rape. This is like a family community over here," Thepeleton Richmond, a parent who lives in the area said.
"I just lost a son you know, so I could only imagine what she's going through, so it hurt me. It's sad that somebody would do a child like that. The youth is everything. They are the future," another parent, Jimmie Blanchard, said.
Ward appeared before a judge on Thursday at the Shelby County General Sessions court, where the girl's father waited.
"I just want to see his face. I'm speechless, hurt."
Ward remains in the county jail on a bond of $50,000. He is due back in court on December 16.
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