JUNCTION CITY, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 02/24/21– A woman in Junction City is on high alert after she says a man allegedly tried to lure her to his vehicle, leading her to believe it was a possible abduction attempt. Now, she wants to warn other women and children.
“Too many people are coming up missing and then they find them and they’re in the woods and I just don’t want that to happen to anybody if I can prevent that,” she said.
Elisha Hayes, 35, explains her uncomfortable encounter that happened Monday at the McDonald’s store in Junction City.
Hayes says she was walking to the store from her home. Before she approached the door to enter, a man stopped her and asked if she wanted a job cleaning houses.
“I told him yes at the time because it sounded good. You know. He told me when I got through to come to his truck. I went inside to do some grocery shopping,” she recalled. Minutes later, she was near the back of the store in the deli department and she says he came up behind her.
“He came over whispering and asking me was I going to come out. He said it like 2-3 times and after that it spooked me and I just stopped responding to him.”
Hayes said so many red flags were going off in her mind and the encounter also disturbed some workers in the store.
“The first thing that came to mind was that he could have given me his information at the door. With all of these people coming up missing, I didn’t know what to think. Then, when he came back in McDonalds that’s what made me really suspicious,” she said.
KTVE was not able to obtain the surveillance video from inside the store but according to Junction City Police Chief Russell Lamb, the man went to the register to pay for his hamburger following the encounter and then went outside to his truck.
“It concerned the women inside because they knew her. They asked her what he wanted because they didn’t know him,” Chief Lamb said.
Shortly after, the owner called police and someone inside the store gave Hayes a ride home. Chief Lamb says when the man saw Hayes exit the store and get inside the car, he left the scene. He has yet to be identified.
“I used to walk up here to McDonalds everyday almost and ever since then I haven’t walked anywhere. I be looking over my shoulders. I don’t even sit on the porch anymore. It’s just scary,
Hayes said. “You don’t normally get that stuff around here with this town being so little. Pretty much everybody knows everybody down here.
Chief Lamb believes the alleged incident is definitely suspicious.
“There are people that have been taken against their will everyday. To approach anybody that you don’t know and ask them something like that was out of their ordinary. I don’t blame her for being uncomfortable. She said she had never met him before in her life,” he said.
According to Chief Lamb, the man was driving a 2007 model white Ford pickup truck with an unknown license plate number. Police are trying to identify and locate the man as he’s wanted for questioning.
Chief Lamb doesn’t believe the man is from the area though it is believed that he is an independent contractor that has does some work for some residents in Union County.
An employee at the McDonald’s says a man in a similar truck approached her home asking if she needed any tasks to be done around her house and says she didn’t know anything else other than that.
Since the winter storm, Chief Lamb says the Union County Sheriff’s Office has received a few reports from residents across the county about a man approaching people’s homes asking if he could do any work around their house.
Although Chief Lamb doesn’t know the man’s intentions, he is warning people that this could be a future robbery attempt. He believes the man could be looking for people who aren’t home to come back at a later time and commit a crime.
Both Chief Lamb and Hayes are asking the public to be aware of their surroundings and report anything that may be suspicious whether you’re at a public place or within the comforts of your own home.
“The main thing is to let somebody know and never go with a stranger. Children especially,” Chief Lamb said.
“It’s a lot of little kids around here and if he offered them money or candy, a lot of kids aren’t going to think he going to kidnap them. They are going to take the candy or money. I don’t want anything to happen t anybody,” she said.