Family thanks "heroes" for saving young boy in attempted abduction

Published 08/18 2014 10:55PM

Updated 08/18 2014 11:00PM

PEKIN - The family of a six-year-old boy and alleged target of an attempted abduction in Pekin is relieved that their child is safe and unharmed.
What was supposed to be a quick Sunday morning breakfast almost became tragedy.
Andrea Erps, her three children and mother-in-law, Lori Svindsen were in a hurry when they decided to make a quick stop at Hardee's in Pekin.
"We ordered our food and the boys went and got us a table," said Erps.
Then it all started. A man approached her, complemented her children and began telling jokes to them.
"I didn't think anything of it. Like really, I hear stuff like that all the time. I didn't think anything at that point," she said.
But he did not stop there.  
"And then he pulled up a chair to us, sat down and continued to tell the jokes to the kids," said Svindsen.  
Svindsen and Erps noticeably began to feel uncomfortable which caught the eye of Jim Mullen, who was eating with his three children.
"My main clue was her body language,” he said. “I noticed she was turning away from him and trying to keep an eye on him but not face him."
Svindsen, annoyed by the stranger, left for her car. The man, now identified as Thomas Anthony, had been gone for some time.
So when Andrea’s daughter had to use the restroom, she thought her two boys, ages nine and six, were okay. But Anthony came back.
"First thing he said was ‘Where's your mom at?’” recalled Mullen. “And the gentlemen said, ‘Well I'm gonna’ find your grandma and say bye to her. You want to come with?"
Anthony lured the child outside, but Mullen and two other men stopped him before getting to the car. Mullen took this video of Anthony leaving.
"It's very scary to think that your grandson could have been abducted and gone, you know? No telling what could have happened to him," Svindsen.  
"No, I don't feel like a hero. I was just doing what I needed to do," said Mullen.  
But the boy's family thinks otherwise.
"You don't even know. I can't even begin to express my gratitude,” said Erps.  
The family and Mullen are surprised Anthony is only charged with a misdemeanor. Mullen says he and the two other men were making eye contact the entire time and made sure to watch Anthony. All parties hope people watching will remember their story and be alert so this doesn't happen to them.

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