GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport man accused of abducting a 10-year-old girl has been charged with a second kidnapping involving a 14-year-old girl.
Terry Slater, 53, is also charged with molesting the teenager and attempted sexual battery against the 10-year-old.
The suspect was driving a church van when he allegedly kidnapped the 10-year-old girl Sunday afternoon. Police believe she was abducted at random from a neighborhood park.
But the 14-year-old victim apparently knew the suspect. She was the last person inside the church van Slater was driving following worship service Sunday morning.
Police say the 14-year-old girl was on the church bus, expecting a ride home from Faith Missionary Baptist Sunday morning. But the driver of the church van, suspect Slater, had other plans.
"Instead of bringing her to her residence, our suspect brought her back to his residence under the guise there was another girl there her age to play with. When she gets there, there's nobody there but she and our suspect," said Gulfport Police Detective Matt Thomas.
Police say when Slater made inappropriate advances toward the girl inside his apartment, she managed to fight him off and get away, much like the 10-year-old victim did.
You'll recall the younger child was picked up while walking alongside this neighborhood park and was also taken to his apartment. Investigators have now filed an attempted sexual battery charge for his alleged activity with her.
"Anything this man has done, we want him to be held responsible for. So, if there's anybody else out there, we would like them to come forward and report this," said Thomas.
The park where the 10-year-old was taken is right next to Central Elementary School.
Parents are no doubt more nervous about their own child's safety, given these recent crimes. But the head of Gulfport's school resource officers says there's no need to panic.
"Just know where your kids are. Just know where they are, who they're playing with. Use a "buddy system" with brothers and sisters or friends. Know who the parents of your kids' friends are. And just keep an eye on 'em," said Mike Shaw with Gulfport Police.
As for the kids, the proven "Stranger-Danger" is still taught to kindergarten and first graders.
"We teach them things to look for, what to do, to yell for their mom or dad, to yell and make a little commotion to get attention drawn to themselves so people can see what's going on," said Lt. Shaw.