Crime

Accused Fort Worth child abductor charged in federal court

Video shows 8-year-old girl being kidnapped in Fort Worth

Salem Sabatka, 8, was kidnapped Saturday while walking with her mother in Fort Worth, police said. Salem is 4-foot-5, weighs 56 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.
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Salem Sabatka, 8, was kidnapped Saturday while walking with her mother in Fort Worth, police said. Salem is 4-foot-5, weighs 56 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.

The man accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old Fort Worth girl on Saturday evening has been charged in federal court with kidnapping, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.

Michael Webb, 51, was arrested by Fort Worth police on a local charge of aggravated kidnapping early Sunday. By Tuesday morning, jail records showed that Webb was no longer being held in the Tarrant County Jail and was transferred into FBI custody at 8:16 a.m.

Webb has been ordered to remain in custody at least until his preliminary hearing in June due to being a danger to the public, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Cureton said.

Webb was given a court-appointed attorney and was present for an initial hearing Tuesday afternoon in federal court. The attorney declined to comment.

Cureton declined to read the charges against Webb out loud at Tuesday’s hearing.

Webb is accused of forcing the girl 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 in the Ryan Place neighborhood.

A video from a nearby porch security camera captured the back of the driver’s car speeding away. In the video, the girl’s mother could be heard screaming that her daughter was kidnapped.

Eight hours later, the girl was found safe at the WoodSprings Suites hotel in Forest Hill. Webb was arrested.

The Forest Hill Police Department said on Monday that officers received a tip about two hours before the girl was found to check the hotel. They made contact with Webb and walked through his hotel room, but didn’t find her, they said.

But at around 2:30 a.m., police said two people who attend a local church saw the suspect’s car and led police to the hotel where she 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, a pastor at Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller, said he decided to help because he is a parent himself and because he is a former high school classmate of the girl’s father.

“I feel like God allowed me to be a tool,” he said.

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