Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Three men who allegedly staged an elaborate kidnapping prank in the streets of Park Forest found themselves under lockup on Halloween. Before the incident was over, several units from the Park Forest Police Department were called in, as well as the Illinois State Police. Children who witnessed the events were terrified and in tears, according to police.
Officers Habecker and Sweitzer were dispatched to a residence in the 100 block of Berry Street at 5:36 PM on Halloween, October 31, to investigate a report of a kidnapping. Commander Coe, Corporal Dunnagan and Officer Hoskins also responded to the area.
Upon arrival, officers interviewed three juveniles and two young adults who related that while they were trick or treating on Berry Street they noticed what appeared to be a female juvenile dressed in a pink costume. According to the witnesses, suddenly, a full-size white panel van stopped on Berry street near the female. Two subjects exited, ran up to her, grabbed her, and pulled her toward the van. The girl was put into the van through the passenger side door.
According to the witnesses, the van then fled west on Berry Street and turned south on Early Street.
One of the juveniles was visibly upset, crying and shaking because of the incident, according to police.
Officers also interviewed residents who told police they were watching television when they heard yelling in the street. They looked outside and saw the white van driving west on Berry and then south on Early.
Officer Sweitzer contacted the Illinois State Police at 5:45 PM and advised them of the incident.
At 5:46 PM, Officer Hoskins was dispatched to the 400 block of Stanton Street to investigate a report of a suspicious auto which matched the description of the van reported in the earlier alleged kidnapping incident. Detectives Baugh, Beilke and Busse also responded to Stanton Street.
An officer spoke to a resident who reported hearing a group of juveniles yelling outside her residence. She looked outside and observed a white van pull up in front of her house, stopping in front of a group of juveniles standing outside. She reported that she heard a juvenile screaming and running towards her residence. She stated that she entered her residence and called 911 to report the incident.
Officers interviewed six juveniles at the scene, all between the ages of 11 and 13. They reported that while they were out trick-or-treating on Stanton Street, they observed a white van. They stated the two occupants of the van yelled, "Hey, come here!" to them. All the juveniles proceeded to run towards a house on Stanton. The juveniles further reported that the van approached a male subject who was walking down the street. Two occupants of the van exited the vehicle, approached the subject who was walking, and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. Both subjects then picked the pedestrian off the ground and proceeded to place him in the back of the vehicle, according to the witnesses.
At 9:55 PM, a resident from Seneca Street contacted Commander Coe to report suspicious activity involving a white cargo van parked on Nashua Street. The resident reported that while jogging on Somonauk Street, he observed a white van parked on Nashua at Somonauk. The witness reported observing four or five male subjects, all laughing, entering the parked van and then quickly exiting the vehicle. The subjects then entered a dark colored 1996 or 1997 Chevy Cavalier parked further north on Somonauk Street. The resident felt that all of the subjects were "up to no good," and he called police to check the van.
Commander Coe and Detective Beilke located the van parked in the 200 block of Nashua. The van had magnetic signs on the front driver and passenger side doors with the name and phone number of a business. Police contacted the registered owner of the vehicle who related that he had allowed his stepson, Ryan S. Baker, 18, 448 Brookwood Terrace #5, Olympia Fields, to drive the vehicle that evening. Officers checked the van and found that it was unsecured, and that the key was in the ignition. Officers recovered the key for safekeeping. The owner of the vehicle stated that he would contact Baker and have a report to the Park Forest Police Department right away.
Baker and Anthony Petty, 19, 126 Larue, Park Forest, responded to the Park Forest Police Department to speak with police.
After being read his Miranda Rights, Baker related that he, Petty, and Aaron Billingsley, 6 Hickory Court, Park Forest, were driving around Park Forest in a white panel van when they decided to play pranks, according to police. While driving near Early Street, they saw a group of kids on Berry Street. They allegedly dropped Billingsley off on Illinois Street and he walked back to Berry Street. According to police, Baker and Petty drove up to Billingsley on Berry Street, got out of the van, ran up to Billingsley, and pretended to beat him up. Billingsley was then pulled into the van by Baker and Petty, according to police.
The three then drove to the 400 block of Stanton where they saw another group of kids. They decided to pull the prank again, dropping Billingsley off, and returning in the van, according to police. Baker and Petty got out of the van, pretended to beat Billingsley up, and the three got into the van and drove away, according to police. They then drove to the 200 block of Hickory Street where they repeated the incident, according to police.
Baker, Petty, and Billingsley were charged with two counts of disorderly conduct and assigned a December 12 court date at Markham Courthouse at 9:00 a.m.