IRMO, SC (WIS) - Erica Felder is still – almost – at a loss for words.
"I hope no parent has to sit here like I am today and has to tell this story ever," she said through tears.
The Irmo mother said her 11-year-old son somehow escaped a kidnapper on the way home from school Tuesday.
"When I finally did get in touch with him, the conversation was horrifying. My son was crying and breathing so heavy and he couldn't get a sentence out. I said what was going on. What was going on? And he said, 'Some lady tried to get me in her car.' And I said, 'Okay.' I said, 'Who was it?' And he goes, 'I don't know.' And I said, 'Okay.' I said, 'What happened? What did you do?' He said, 'Well, she asked me to get in her car to give me a ride home and I said no and I kept walking.' And he said, 'And then she ran at me and cussed at me,'" Felder recalled. "It was almost like, as a mother, the voice he was using, the tone he was using, the scaredness in his voice, it was like, 'Why weren't you here?' And – the guilt – is overwhelming – that my baby was that scared, and I wasn't there."
Across town in Northeast Columbia, Mike Genova, a longtime karate teacher, will probably see a wave of new customers – a lot of new interest.
"Usually, what happens is we have an incident like we had over in Irmo, and then everyone is scrambling to find out information to protect their kids," said the owner of Genova Family Karate.
Genova preaches four "p's." The first two – prevention and preparation – should start at home or school: what to do and what not to do when approached by a stranger.
"You should do that with your parents and grandparents," he said.
The next "p" is to protect. Genova's advice to his young students? Act like a cat.
"You know, if you ever try to hold a cat, and a cat doesn't want to be held, you're going to get scratched and you're going to get bitten and that cats going to be squirming, and it's going to be difficult to hold on to," Genova said.
Another "p" is an important one: practice. There is any number of classes offered across the Midlands.
Back to the Irmo cases, officers in Irmo continue to follow leads and hope more will come in after the release of two detailed composite sketches that show what the female suspect might look like.
If you have any information, officers want you to call CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.