Girl, 4, grabbed from aunt’s arms

KIDNAP EFFORT TOWED

Thursday, July 06, 2006

By MICHAELANGELO CONTE

JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

WEST NEW YORK – A convicted sex offender who snatched a 4-year-old girl
and took off running was grabbed by police moments later because he’d
parked his getaway car in front of a driveway, where it was towed away,
officials said.

Christian Apicella, 27, of Hazlet, was arrested at 12:05 a.m. yesterday
at 53rd Street near Palisade Avenue, and charged with kidnapping,
endangering the welfare of a child and making terrorist threats,
according to police.

“This person came from out of town at a time when the fireworks events
were being held, an area where children could be found walking around,”
said Police Director Tim Griffin.”

The 4-year-old was with her 19-year-old aunt by 51st Street near Palisade
Avenue when Apicella walked up and commented on the girl’s toy necklace,
Griffin said.

Apicella, who already served time for sexually assaulting two underage
girls, allegedly grabbed the girl and carried her under his arm like a
football. He then took off running with the aunt chasing behind until she
lost sight of him ablock later, Griffin said.

A city man heard the aunt’s screams and took up the chase, Griffin said,
adding that he refused to give up the chase even though Apicella
allegedly threatened him repeatedly saying, “I’ve got a gun. Back off,”
Griffin said.

The streets were crowded with people celebrating the Fourth of July and
many of them called police, Griffin said, adding that numerous officers
were on patrol due to the holiday and they were able to react quickly.

Apicella got a surprise when he reached the area where he’d parked on
53rd Street and with no car, city Emergency Response Team officers
converged on him. The girl was recovered unharmed, Griffin said.

“The fact that the good Samaritan took it upon himself to engage in a
pursuit and put his own life in danger in order to protect this girl is
an outstanding feat,” Griffin said of the man, whose identity was not
released. “It could have been an absolute tragedy.”

Apicella was in jail from July 25, 2002 to Dec. 30, 2004 on convictions
for sexual assault, drug distribution and harassment, state corrections
officials said. He committed an act of sexual contact against a 9-year
old girl and also grabbed a 12-year-old on a separate occasion, according
to the state’s sex offender Website.

© 2006 The Jersey Journal

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