Kidnap victim, 11, recovering as prosecutor weighs charge

Friday, June 18, 2004
Star-Ledger Staff

The 11-year-old Jersey City boy, who authorities say was kidnapped and
beaten by his father’s ex-girlfriend, was out of his hospital bed
yesterday, laughing and teasing family members — just a day after his
harrowing ordeal.

An intravenous tube was removed; the youngster was eating solid food and
some of his swelling subsided, said Myra Brown, the boy’s maternal
grandmother, during an interview at Jersey City Medical Center.

“I just thank God that he’s alive,” said Brown, 50, of Jersey City. “But
when I think about what she did, I just start crying.”

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said yesterday he expects
authorities also will try to bring an attempted murder charge against
Gloria Sumter, 44, of Jersey City, when the case is presented to a grand

The woman is accused of beating the boy, trying to strangle him with a
belt and attempting to suffocate him with a trash bag.

Sumter was charged Wednesday with kidnapping, aggravated assault,
endangering the welfare of a child, endangering an injured victim and
falsifying and tampering with records. She remained in the Hudson County
Jail last night, after state Superior Court Judge Edward O’Connor set
bail at $500,000 cash or bond, with an order that she have no contact
with the family.

Authorities said Sumter claimed to be a relative when she went to pick up
the boy at the Schomburg Charter School in Jersey City, telling him his
father had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. School
officials called Brown and had her speak to Sumter by phone, but no staff
member spoke to Brown before the call ended, a school spokeswoman

“I must say, in all my years, I haven’t seen anything like it,” said
DeFazio, noting that it will probably take a couple of months before the
case goes to the grand jury. “Certainly, on the face of it, the conduct
was beyond any sense of reason or logic that we know.”

Brown said her grandson waged a valiant fight, punching the woman and
poking holes in the plastic bag so that he could breathe.

“He said to her, ‘I thought you loved me,’” said Brown. “Then she said,
‘Are you hungry?’ He said, ‘No, I’m thirsty.’ Then she gave him orange
juice. Maybe she came to her senses.”

Brown said she had no idea that school officials would release the child
to Sumter when she spoke to her by phone. Concerned, Brown went to the
school, but just missed her grandson and Sumter.

“They didn’t handle it right,” Brown said of the school officials.
“They’re supposed to protect those children.”

Brown said Sumter, who had dated the boy’s father, had always treated her
grandson well.

“And it’s over breaking up with her boyfriend,” Brown said. “She should
have talked to him — not take it out on a child … I hope she goes to
jail for life — that’s how I feel.”

She said both her daughter and the boy’s father are attempting to cope
with the injuries to their son.

“He feels real bad about it,” Brown said of the boy’s father, recalling
how he cried when he came to the hospital Wednesday night.

The boy’s first cousins, Aaron Reason, 13, and Marquis Reason, 12, were
in tears upon learning of the incident and were among the visitors
yesterday to the hospital room, filled with get-well cards.

“I love that kid,” Aaron said. “He’s laughing … I was playing a game
with him.”

Marquis said the boys made their mother take them out of school early so
they could visit their cousin, adding, “He’s coming home soon.”

Nancy McBride, director of prevention education for the National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children, said the incident should serve as
another warning about the need to safeguard youngsters — even when it
appears they know who is picking them up.

“He obviously knew this woman — that’s what makes it so confusing,” said
McBride, who nevertheless said school officials must ensure that parental
contact numbers are routinely updated and that they confirm who people

“You make them show ID,” said McBride.

She said children must be taught tips to prevent abductions continually,
noting that children are often victimized by adults’ attempts to trick

“We can’t put all the onus for safety on a young child,” said McBride.
“That means the adults have to step up.”

Her group offers the following four tips:

Check first: Children should always check with parents and guardians
before accepting gifts, rides or invitations from anyone.

Go with a friend: Simple and straightforward — never go anywhere alone.

It’s my body: Anyone who violates the sanctity of a child’s body or
threatens or attempts to do so is committing a crime. Tell your children
it is okay to say “No!”

Tell a trusted adult: Teach your children to tell a trusted adult –
parent, teacher, etc. — if anyone is making them feel scared,
uncomfortable or confused.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved.

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