The White Van Scoop. The Final Chapter. (I Think)

It has become known as “the white van story” and the topic has taken community dialogue hostage and filled my inbox. With rumors on the rise, I went searching for one solid version of events in hopes of providing some rational perspective and a little bit of peace. Because you know, being a totally level headed and super fact oriented kind of girl, this is right up my alley.

So on Monday I met with 4 members of the UPPD; Chief Gary Adams, Sergeant James Savage, Captain Greg Spradlin and Captain Leon Holman. Later that day, I spoke with the mom who wrote the original e-mail warning about the suspicious white van (we’ll call her Mom 1).

First, let me be very clear. I do NOT think Mom 1 is to blame for the mass hysteria. She was acting calmly and in the best interest of her family and neighbors. In my opinion, she was NOT overreacting. But I think it’s like a game of telephone and somewhere along the way, someone didn’t hear it quite right.

In case you’ve missed it, here is the original e-mail sent by Mom 1 after she reported the incident to police.

Date: February 13, 2010 8:40:08 AM CST
Subject: Re: White Van
I just wanted to let everyone know that the white van was not the paper man. A man in a white van also tried to pick up a little girl on Daniel yesterday.

Please be careful.

[Mom 1]

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 12, 2010, at 8:54 AM

Today my older girls were dusting snow off of our trees when a white van pulled up. A man with long grey brown hair smiled at them and got out of the van. He walked up to our neighbor’s house then came towards the girls. They ran inside and he jumped in the van and took off.

Please watch the kids today as they play outside.

Thanks.

[Mom 1]

Note: Mom 1 learned of the Daniel incident via another e-mail.

OK, here’s what I’ve got.

If you’ll remember, Chief Gary Adams told us UPPD had received 4 calls about the suspicious white van. I was under the impression that that meant 4 separate citizens made 911 calls about the same van. But that isn’t quite accurate. The four calls were made by 2 people, here’s the breakdown.

Call 1: Mom 1 called UPPD on Friday, February 12, 2010 about the incident described in her e-mail.

She recapped the incident for me: Her 8 and 9 year old daughters told her a man with a 3-4 inch beard in a white van had blocked their driveway, walked up to the house next door, looked in the neighbor’s window and then approached her girls in the driveway. Her girls ran into the house to alert her and by the time (within seconds) she got outside, the van was speeding away.

Officers patrolled the neighborhood and did not find anyone matching the description but continued searching and remained on high alert.

Call 2: Saturday, February 13, 2010 (the day after the incident) at 12:42 p.m., one of the original e-mail recipients (we’ll call her Mom 2) called UPPD and reported seeing a van that met Mom 1’s description.

6 minutes later, at 12:48 p.m., Sergeant Savage pulled over a white van that met the description, just 2 blocks away. Savage noted the van was full of newspapers and that he had seen the man tossing papers into yards moments before. Savage ran the driver through a criminal and sex offender check, nothing was found. The driver confirmed he had been in the neighborhood the day before.

Moments after Savage completed his interaction with the driver of the van, he was approached by a man with a little girl. The man identified himself as a resident of Daniel. He told Savage that he’d walked his child over so she could tell him if the driver was the same man who had talked to her yesterday as she built a snowman. The unidentified man had asked her if she was going to use a carrot for a nose. It frightened her and the parents were obviously concerned. The parents determined it was a case of an overly nice paper delivery man and did not report the incident to police.

Savage asked the child if it was the same man and the same van, she said it was.

Call 3: Saturday, February 13, 2010 1:29 p.m., UPPD received a call from the home of Mom 1. The caller reported that the van Savage had just pulled over was not the one they had called about yesterday.

Call 4: On Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 1:29 p.m. (5 days after the original call) Mom 2 appeared at the police station reporting that several parents have seen the same van in the area and she wanted to know what police were doing to investigate. She was told that the man they pulled over had no criminal history but they would continue to investigate and assured her they were taking the concerns very seriously.

No other reports have been received by UPPD. UPPD has shared the information with HP DPS. HP DPS confirmed they have not received any related reports.

UPDATE: One more thought. I’ve tried to figure out why, with all of the e-mails like this circulating, did THIS one create such a frenzy. I believe it is because Mom 1 is very credible. Everyone knows her, she’s not into drama, she’s always very calm and rational. So, hey, Mom1, at least now you know that you have more power than you ever thought possible. Though we all know you’d rather find that out a different way.

UPDATE 2: Mom 1 has pointed out that the man who approached her girls had a 3-4 inch gray beard and the paper delivery man had a short black beard.

21 thoughts on “The White Van Scoop. The Final Chapter. (I Think)

  • February 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm
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    Thank you, Merritt! This is an upscale neighborhood and a long-haired man driving a van interacting with children is a NO-NO. Evan with innocent intentions, it’s wrong in this day and time to speak to children unknown to you. The parents, in my opinion, were in the right by waving the red flags. I have no children, but lots of nieces and nephews that I cherish and have instructed them to be very cautious with even family friends how get too close.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm
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    This story has reminded me of three years ago when my child was in 5th grade … there were similar stories circulating about a white van. All the kids (and moms)were talking about it. My kids and their friends would freak out if we even saw a white van driving down the road and they talked about it constantly in carpool. Nothing ever came of it!

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  • February 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm
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    I have to take some of the blame here. You see, I’ve been growing a mustache for the cold weather, and I happened upon the girl building a snow man. Reminded of the classic scene from Dumb and Dumber, I told her the carrot didn’t have to be a nose and winked at her. I was parked behind the white van as I intended to ask the owner 1) if he was interested in selling and 2) could the windows be fitted for curtains. I don’t really see how any of this is cause for alarm but if it is, I apologize.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm
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    Having lived in the Park Cities for over 40 years,I still find it amazing that you can be so elitist to think that having long hair in this very affluent neighborhood is a no-no. Most of the parents and kids that I knew of that were into drugs and dealing drugs in the Park Cities were always very clean cut. Just food for thought.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm
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    I would be more concerned with the mothers in their big suv’s driving around drunk in the carpool lines.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm
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    Yes rob, drug users are very clean cut. We have to keep our jobs to so that we can afford to support local “agriculture”. It is for this very reason that I find myself at the Grooming Room every 3 weeks on the dot.

    The pedophiles have the long hair. Please keep these things straight.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm
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    @Rob Hall Yes you are right about elitist, but you were missing the point (or I missed it) that interacting with children you don’t know is the no-no in this situation. I don’t believe in profiling either, but you have to admit that today’s kids are more subjected to violence than when I was growing up here. I still know parkies that do drugs and your right about the clean cut appearance. But this wasn’t about dealing drugs. It’s about keeping kids safe.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm
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    you have to admit that today’s kids are more subjected to violence than when I was growing up here

    Well, no. Or maybe not; I have no idea how old you are, Scooter. Today’s rates of violence against children (12-15yoa) are pretty much the lowest they’ve been since 1973, which is the earliest year on the Bureau of Justice Statistics studies. 2008 was at 42.2 per 1000 children; 1870-1990 ranged from mid 70s to 101; it peaked in 1994 at 118.6 (wow — almost 12% of children were victims of violent crime).

    However, the ease of mass communication has made the rate at which insane women spread their insanity increase dramatically.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm
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    Er, “1870-1990” should have been “1973-1990”.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 5:14 pm
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    The description of the guy sounds like my handyman. I need to remember to advise him not to say hi to the neighborhood kids.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm
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    Look at the sex offender database in your neighborhood or zip and I think that you would be suprised. I know of multiple incidents durring the 70’s including 1 on Beverly Dr,and I do think that kids in our community are as safe now as back then. My children are younger but when I was in Armstrong,MMS and HPHS there were fights weekly and I still remember the pipe bomb while eating lunch at HPHS.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 6:18 pm
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    @Matt The violence the children are subjected to is on television and in their music. I remember in the ’70s when music was pop and television wasn’t all CSI. Their media seems to promote violence. That’s all I was trying to convey and for the record, I’m in my 40’s.

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  • February 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm
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    The Dallas police must be howling with laughter that the the UP police put this much time and energy into this.

    What ever happened to the hooker with the pot smoking kids? Wasn’t she on Daniel?

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  • February 24, 2010 at 8:50 pm
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    Perhaps due to the hype or perhaps merely coincidentally, I heard this joke passed around middle schoolers today —

    Q: “Did you hear about the kidnapping?”

    A: “He woke up.”

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  • February 25, 2010 at 9:26 am
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    @Scooter – you shot yourself in the foot with the “upscale neighborhood” comment, as if strangers approaching children is okay in “non-upscale” neighborhoods. I agree with Rob – that comment came off as elitist. I think this whole thing blew up into something silly.

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  • February 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm
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    @ Still Confused – We may have the same handyman. I hadn’t even thought of it before. He is one of the friendliest guys around.

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  • February 28, 2010 at 4:54 pm
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    LMAO at http://www.scaryvan.com Priceless!

    My children know not to talk to anyone wearing non-designer shoes. It helps keep away the riff-raff.

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  • March 9, 2010 at 10:50 am
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    I’d like to say THANK YOU to “Mom 1” for her response to the situation. I do not think she overreacted but on a day where many of us allowed the children to play outside in the snow it did remind us that we needed to still watch our kids closely and remind them of stranger danger. Also, her children did exactly what we’ve asked them to do and good for them. Ditto on the girl on Daniel. This is what we want our children to do, come tell a grown up when a stranger approaches them…..perhaps the newspaper man should have called the police and I.D.’d himself saying he scared some children accidentally in case they get calls….that would have stopped some of the “telephone” game that followed.

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  • April 26, 2011 at 4:40 pm
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    It is always a van eh? Parents in all seriousness check the sex offender lists for your neighborhood and make sure that your kids are supervised. There are plenty of great homes and real estate out there but that does not mean there are not predators living in the area or at least passing through.

    Reply

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