White City mom Desiree Mullen is distributing posters in her neighborhood warning of predators after two separate incidents where a man in a vehicle approached teenaged girls and asked them to get into his vehicle. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Jim Craven

Mom acts to protect children

When two teenage girls reported being approached by a man who wanted them to get in his vehicle in recent weeks, one White City mom knew she had to do something.

"There are so many victims who shouldn't be victims," said Desiree Mullen, 24. "If we can all band together, we can help stop this."

Armed with a copy of a news article and a statement asking neighbors to keep watch, especially before and after school when kids are on the move, Mullen started knocking on doors in the trim little subdivision of nearly identical homes where she lives.

"I can see both streets where this happened from my front porch," she said.

However, she found many of the neighbors on Andrea Drive, where she lives, hadn't heard about the cases.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department reported that a 13-year-old girl walking on Laura Lane at about 7 a.m. April 30 was approached by a stranger who offered her $20 if she would get in his small, light blue car. When she refused, he sped off. The girl sent a text message to her mom about the incident and hurried to meet friends to walk to school in a group.

Then, around 2 p.m. on Sunday, on nearby Avenue E, a man in an older, black cargo van approached a 14-year-old girl and demanded she get in his van, the sheriff's department reported. When she refused, he got out of the van and came toward her. She pulled out her cell phone and ran home, where she told her mother about the incident and called 9-1-1.

Sheriff's department spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said investigators still are examining both cases, poring through records and following any leads that come up. Deputies have increased patrols in the neighborhood.

Mullen wants to add even more eyes. She is encouraging her neighbors to spend a few moments sitting on their front porch, going for a walk, working in the front yard or doing anything that will get them out and about, especially from 6 to 8 a.m. or 1:30 to 3 p.m., when many kids are heading to and from school.

"No one will attempt to abduct a child when an adult is sitting at the porch across the street," the statement she delivered to homes reads.

"It is our job as adults to protect our community and our children."

She's visited one street in the development to deliver the flier, titled "Time to Take a Stand," and wants to get to four or five more by the end of the month.

As she meets and greets neighbors of all ages, she reminds kids to walk with a friend, be observant of details such as license plate numbers if they see something suspicious, and to never get into a vehicle with someone they don't know.

Dan Johnson, principal of White Mountain Middle School, where both girls attend classes, said teachers have reiterated basic safety information, reminding students to tell a family member where they are going and what route they plan to take. Kids should walk with a buddy and consider calling home when they arrive at their destination, he said. Any suspicious activity should be reported to an adult immediately.

The school also sent home a memo to keep all families apprised of the situation in the neighborhood.

"It takes a community to solve a crime," Carlson said, adding that anyone with information that may be relevant to the cases should call the Jackson County Sheriff's Tip Line at 541-774-8333.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail

Share This Story