Fort Worth residents celebrate safe return of 8-year-old kidnapped
Bond has been set for a 51-year-old man accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old Fort Worth girl as she walked with her mother on Saturday afternoon.
Michael Webb is still being held in the Tarrant County Jail in lieu of $100,000, according to jail records. Webb is charged with aggravated kidnapping. No additional charges had been brought against him as of Monday evening.
Webb is accused of forcing Salem Sabatka into his car just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday near 6th Avenue and Lowden Street. Her mother grabbed a piece of jewelry from the assailant in what Fort Worth police said was a “valiant fight” with the man Saturday evening in the Ryan Place neighborhood of the city.
A video from a nearby porch security camera captured the back of the driver’s car speeding away. In the video, Salem’s mother could be heard screaming that her daughter was kidnapped.
Eight hours later, Salem was found safe at the WoodSprings Suites hotel in Forest Hill. Webb was arrested.
Police said two people who attend a local church saw the suspect’s car and led police to the hotel where Salem was found. The church members saw the photo of the car on social media and drove around to help find the girl.
One of the men, Jeff King, said he decided to help because he is a parent himself and because he is a former high school classmate of Salem’s father.
“I feel like God allowed me to be a tool,” he said.
A neighbor of Webb’s, 58-year-old John Gore, said on Monday that he was surprised by the news. Gore is a father to three adult triplets — all women.
Gore said he and his friends had talked about Webb during church on Sunday and asked themselves how someone could do such a thing.
“He had a job. He was just a regular dude,” Gore said.
He described Webb as a friendly, talkative type of person.
Gore said Webb told him he was a welder who worked at night. Because of the time he worked, Gore said, he did not often see him. When he did see Webb, there was nothing that seemed out of the ordinary, he said.
Gore said Webb told him that he had been living in east Texas but had moved to Fort Worth about five or six months ago. Court records list an address for Webb in Tyler.
“It’s all a surprise, amazing to me,” Gore said. “I saw no outward signs of distress, or nothing to be worried about. I had no indications of anything going on.”
A woman who answered the door to Webb’s Fort Worth address said Webb used her address and visited her, but never actually lived at the home. She identified herself as a family member.
Webb has been previously charged with sexual assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Smith County. Both charges, however, were dismissed on a motion filed by prosecutors in November.
Richard Vance, the Smith County prosecutor who handled the case, said Sunday the dismissal came after the alleged victim became uncooperative and apparently left the state.
“Our hands were pretty much tied on that one, otherwise we would have prosecuted him,” Vance said.
Reporters Mitch Mitchell, Deanna Boyd and Emerson Clarridge contributed to this report