ROWLETT (CBSDFW.COM) – A Rowlett mother says a GPS device helped her get to her daughter, after she was taken and attacked by a sexual predator. She’s sharing her story with the hope it can help other parents find their child in an emergency.
The mother, who is not being identified so as to protect her daughter, says her 15 year old left home on Monday afternoon to go on a walk.
Her daughter has Asperger Syndrome – an Autism spectrum disorder.
“She wanders. I can’t keep her home sometimes. She’s wandered at night before,” said the mother.
About a month ago, the family began using a device called Angel Sense to keep tabs on the teenager.
The device uses GPS technology and attaches to clothing with a powerful magnet that only the parent can remove. The technology costs about $40 a month and includes a service that can pinpoint the wearer’s location down to a few feet. It will also send parents text messages with periodic updates on their child’s location.
Monday afternoon, the mother says the device alerted her that her daughter was in a location outside of the neighborhood.
When the mother activated a microphone on the device, she could hear her daughter struggling.
“I heard the assault while it was happening. I knew exactly what was happening,” the mother said.
She got in her car and drove to the location – Springfield Park. Her daughter was not there. The location then pinged to the intersection of Hickox and Rowlett Road – still nothing.
Finally it took her down an alley near the family’s home – where the mother found her daughter frantically running.
She thinks the suspect abandoned her daughter after he saw the device, out of fear he would be tracked.
“I think this device saved her life, or from being gang raped, because it was going to go to that. That’s what [I heard the suspect say],” said the mom.
Rowlett police are interviewing the victim in the hope of gaining enough of a description to draw up a sketch. He’s described as in his twenties, with a mustache and a large tattoo of a circle with points coming out of it, down the inside of his left arm.
According to her description the assailant was wearing a white t-shirt, dark shorts, and Nike sandals.
Police say the girl described his vehicle as white, smelling like cigarettes, with two car seats and a booster seat inside.
Lieutenant David Nabors says the GPS information saved to the mom’s cell phone gives detectives a leg up: for example they know the suspect took her to the parking lot in the park between 4:10 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday afternoon.
“It’s excellent because very rarely do you have that detailed of information when you’re looking at sexual assault. Sometimes when they’re in the car, victims are so scared they’re not able to tell you where they were. This GPS device can tell us down to feet,” Nabors said.
“It gives us a timeline as to where she was, when she was there, how long she was there. It’s a rare opportunity,” Nabors said.
The mother says she would recommend this device to any parent with a child who has special needs – or any parent whose child wanders in general.
“Get it. It’s worth it. It can save your kid’s life,” she said.
Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call Rowlett Police.
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