TOBACCOVILLE, N.C. -- A Facebook post containing false information about a reported attempted child luring has been spreading across social media. However, the incident it attempted to detail is still under investigation by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and it serves as a warning to parents.
The ordeal began on Friday, in the afternoon, at The Village Park in Tobaccoville. It’s there that a mother tells FOX8 she was at a birthday party when a young girl who did not belong to the party started approaching other children.
“You’re really cute and my parents think you’re adorable,” the mother, who we’re not identifying, claims the girl in question said to a little girl the mother was watching. “My mom thinks you’re just so adorable and they really want to meet you.”
The mother says the girl in question kept reiterating that her parents wanted to meet the girl who belonged to the party. At this point, the mother says she made it clear that the child would not be going anywhere. Shortly thereafter, the mother says the girl in question started making offers, presumably, in an attempt to lure the girl belonging to the party behind a fence line to meet her parents.
“She asked if the little girl would like to have some of the chips,” the mother detailed, adding that she then “heard a voice behind the fence and she was like, ‘See if she wants some candy.’”
The mother said she saw part of a woman’s figure, as well as a man, smoking behind the fence.
“I could tell that there was someone else sitting beside her, because it was a man in jeans, because I could just see like, his knee,” the mother added.
At this point, the mother claims a hand emerged from behind the fence and gave candy to the girl in question, which was in turn offered to the girl belonging to the party.
“The little girl kind of turned around, and like contemplating like, ‘Maybe I could have some,’ and I was like, ‘She will not be taking any of your candy,’” the mother says.
The mother and other parents then gathered and counted the children. A short while later, the mother says an off-duty Winston-Salem police officer showed up at the party.
“He said, ‘Well, I’ll just keep an eye on them and I’ll make my presence known,’” the mother recalled.
About 20 minutes later, she says, the girl and adults in question left. She also noticed a young boy who appeared to be with the group.
“She could have gone, or what if the candy had had something in it and she could have gotten sick,” the mother said. “I mean, it’s terrifying.”
The incident was not immediately reported to authorities.
The next day, the mother’s husband said he recounted the incident to a co-worker. Early Sunday morning, they say the co-worker posted to Facebook, detailing some of the incident, but also falsely reporting some of the facts.
For instance, the post claimed the incident happened at Horizons Park, in Rural Hall, which was incorrect. In addition, it said that the mother called police when she got to her car and that they arrived to find and arrest a man and a woman in the woods. It added that the man and the woman were arrested and had prior sex trafficking charges.
All of that information was incorrect. As of Wednesday afternoon, the post had been shared 4,400 times.
“Somehow the facts got mixed up,” the mother said.
It wasn’t until Sunday evening that the mother reported the incident to deputies.
“It was terrifying,” the mother told FOX8.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office says they have no reason to believe the incident did not happen, adding that they are acting as if it did and saying they’ll be mindful of The Village Park as well as all other parks in the area.
They add that the first thing someone should do when incidents like this occur is notify authorities as soon as possible, so they can try to find the individuals in question. They also applaud everyone who was there during the reported incident for being mindful and staying alert.
They also stressed the importance of knowing what you’re posting is true before taking to social media.
“Don’t take candy from strangers and don’t go around the fence to meet somebody’s parents,” the mother said. “Whether or not this is what actually was occurring, someone could use this plan of luring a child.”
Deputies say they have not had any other reports of incidents like this happening at The Village Park or any other area parks in recent history.