GRAND JUNCTION, Iowa -- Police are investigating what could be the third child abduction attempt in the past two days.
On Sunday in Gowrie, a 13-year-old girl says a white man in a dark colored ski mask tried to abduct her. And in Dayton, a five-year-old girl says a man with a similar description tried to grab her.
Now, on Monday,a woman tells police she was walking with her three-year-old daughter and her dog near the corner of 12th Street South and Hager Street East in Grand Junction at around 11:30 a.m. That's when she tells police a white van, similar to the one reported in abduction attempts this weekend, pulled up. She says a black man was driving, and a white man wearing a ski mask got out of the passenger side door and grabbed her toddler.
Greene County Sheriff Steven Haupert says the woman claims her dog went on the attack, rescuing the toddler. "At that time, the dog that she was walking on a leash supposedly broke loose and attacked the male abductor and bit him in the right arm and did draw, she said, did draw blood," Haupert says.
The woman tells police the man dropped her little girl and she called for help, prompting a massive police manhunt. Officers did not find the van or its occupants.
A school near where the alleged abduction attempt took place does have security cameras. Police have reviewed the tapes and say that what they saw is not consistent with what the woman is reporting.
"We did not see at that point at that intersection where a van of that description passed through the intersection," Sheriff Haupert said, "And I'm in no way diminishing the seriousness of this and in no way saying that she is fabricating this. I'm just saying at this point it didn't happen the way she said it happened, and we can prove that."
Still, neighbors are on edge. They say this is scary.
"Actually it really is," Sonya Cmelik says, "It actually is really nerve racking to see this happen to my town. Especially since I lived here pretty much my whole life and I'm raising my daughter here."
We talked with the sheriff in Webster County. He says his department is taking this case very seriously. Both sheriffs say parents should be hyper-vigilant, keeping a very close eye on their children. And they say older children should always walk in groups and be aware of their surroundings.