Girl, 10, kicks, flees kidnap

By TERRY CORCORAN
THE JOURNAL NEWS

LAKE PEEKSKILL – A 10-year-old Lake Peekskill girl foiled an abduction
attempt this week by kicking her attacker in the groin and fleeing as he
dropped to the ground, police said yesterday.

A Putnam County sheriff’s deputy arrested the suspect minutes later.
Dardan Haxhaj, 20, of 51 Hanson St., Lake Peekskill, was charged with
second-degree attempted kidnapping, a felony, and police said they were
considering additional charges based on earlier encounters he had with
the girl’s brother.

Haxhaj told police he had become familiar with the girl’s bus route and
the path she walked from the bus stop to her grandmother’s house some 500
feet away, according to Sheriff Donald B. Smith.

He donned a mask and stood behind a tree near the bus stop about 3 p.m.
Monday, police said. As the girl passed a wooded area on Pine Street, he
sneaked up from behind and grabbed her arm, police added. She spun
around, screamed when she saw the mask, then gave him a swift kick,
soccer-style, before running to her grandmother’s home, police said.

“It was very brave,” sheriff’s Capt. William McNamara said.

The grandmother called 911, and deputies rushed into the neighborhood and
got a description ‹ he was dressed all in black ‹ from the girl.

Deputy James Stasiak saw Haxhaj in front of his home and took him into
custody.

He initially denied any involvement in the abduction but later admitted
stalking and grabbing the girl, police said.

Investigator Michael Nalbone made the arrest.

Police said Haxhaj also admitted to approaching the girl’s 5-year-old
brother at least twice and telling the boy he was going to kidnap him.

He later said those threats were only a joke, police said, but they took
them seriously and interviewed the boy Wednesday night with caseworkers
from Child Protective Services.

Haxhaj’s family moved to the Putnam Valley community just north of
Westchester County from the Bronx about two years ago. Police said he
works part time as a construction worker in the Bronx.

He was being held on $50,000 bail and is due in Town Court on Dec. 13.

Copyright 2005 The Journal News

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