VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida woman who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol is accused of trying to abduct multiple children from a beach park and hitting a pregnant woman, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies said Sarah Freeman, 34, was at a Toronita Avenue Beach Park around 1 p.m. Monday when she approached a six-months-pregnant woman and said, “This isn’t a Florida trip you’re going to want to remember,” then tried to grab her child by the towel, a news release said.
The pregnant woman pulled her child away from Freeman and was able to escape, but not without being hit during the struggle, according to authorities.
In a call to a 911 operator, the woman said she threatened to stab Freeman if she didn't release her daughter.
"She physically grabbed and was walking off with a smaller child and then tried to grab my son and I told her I was going to stab her if she did. I didn't have anything to stab her with," the mother told a 911 operator.
Freeman also told at least one child that their mother “was not their mother -- and they need to run away,” according to the incident report.
A victim told police that as Freeman was approaching her, Freeman was mumbling words that were hard to understand.
The family declined medical attention, investigators said, but plans to pursue criminal charges.
Next, deputies said Freeman went to another parent, this time a father, and hit him in the backside with a stick and then told the man's 5-year-old son, “It will be all right. He’s not your dad.”
"This lady's literally trying to take my kid," the man told a 911 operator.
Freeman grabbed the boy by the arm and started to walk away with him until the father grabbed the boy back and took him to his truck, the report said. The man told authorities he believed Freeman was high on meth.
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Freeman tried to force her way into the vehicle and when that didn't work, she turned to another parent and said, “I’ll just take your kid, then,” according to a news release.
The father will also pursue criminal charges.
A witness corroborated what she saw, which matched the man’s statement to officials.
Witnesses were able to provide authorities with descriptions of Freeman and her clothes, which helped them make an arrest within minutes. Deputies said Freeman appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance.
After she was placed in a police car, Freeman uttered unintelligible words that did not make sense, authorities said.
When a deputy tried to interview Freeman, she mumbled words in a very low voice. Investigators couldn’t make out what she was saying, and also noted that Freeman was sweating profusely.
Freeman was charged with two counts of attempted kidnapping, aggravated battery on a pregnant victim, burglary of a conveyance and battery. She was taken to jail without the option to post bond.
Parents at the park Monday afternoon said they've had to teach their kids how to fight off strangers who try to harm them.
"(With) self-defense as best they can -- eye gouges, throat punches, kicks to the groin, kicks to the shin and run," Sam Streby said.
Added Molly Streby, "You need to keep your kids close by, because there are people that do try to abduct children.”