Washington State Abduction Actually a Prank: Officials

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
August 24, 2018US News

A reported abduction in Washington state turned out to be an elaborate prank, officials said after an investigation.

The Washington State Patrol initially responded to a call on Aug. 23 after witnesses reported seeing five to six men dressed in white jumpsuits grab three people and restrain them with zip ties.

One of the three people that appeared to be abducted was described as a girl between the ages of three and seven, the patrol said in a press release.

The patrol said later on Thursday that it appeared as if the possible abduction was a hoax and that detectives were interviewing those involved to make sure.

A short time later, the conclusion was reached. “The possible Heritage Park abduction has been confirmed as a hoax. All those involved have been ID’d and confirmed safe. Detectives are continuing to investigate & will work w/ the Prosecutor’s office for potential charges.” the patrol stated via Twitter.

Reported Washington abduction atually prank
A surveillance image circulated by the Washington State Patrol shows a red Ford truck used in a reported abduction. (Washington State Patrol)

Investigation Reveals ‘Escape Room-Style Kidnapping’

Detectives had tracked down the vehicle reportedly used in the abduction and positively identified all the suspects and victims.

After confirming everyone was safe, all the people involved were interviewed by detectives.

“According to testimonies, the family had been planning the elaborate hoax for three weeks,” the patrol said. “Their idea was to play a ‘prank’ on the youngest kids, aged 11 and 15-years-old, by turning a scavenger hunt into an ‘escape room-style kidnapping.'”

Detectives said a 17-year-old was enlisted to lead the two kids to Heritage Park in downtown Olympia, where six adults were hiding in bushes.

When the trio arrived, the adults jumped out and restrained the children with zip ties as described by witnesses. They then placed the children in the back of the family’s red Ford truck.

A witness nearby called 911 and a trooper rushed over but the family was gone. However, they were soon tracked down by the authorities.

Possible Charges, But Relief

The findings of the investigation have been sent to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, which may press charges.

People across the state and nation were following the case as it developed, including Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who had forwarded an initial alert that included surveillance images of the red truck and asked the public for help identifying the kidnappers.

“We take this seriously when people have been abducted, especially a child, we want to make sure that person is safe,” Washington State Patrol Sergeant James Prouty told Q13.

“It’s a relief you don’t have a child out there that’s been abducted. Definitely a relief.”

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