Tootsie Roll Purchase for 3-Year-Old Spurs Arrest of Phoenix Woman


A woman who took a 3-year-old neighbor boy to the store and bought him a Tootsie Roll faces a charge of custodial interference after sparking fears of a kidnapping.

Cops scoured the streets near 32nd Street and Indian School for more than a half an hour on Friday evening, trying to help a panicked mother whose toddler went missing. Police say the boy's mother had been in her apartment, caring for an infant and glancing often out her open door at the grassy courtyard outside, where her little boy and other children were playing.

About 6:30 p.m., she suddenly realized the child had vanished. When the other kids told her that a woman had walked off with the boy, she punched 911 on her phone.


Clearly, the "hey, kid, want a piece of candy?" routine is ingrained in the culture's paranoia about child kidnappings, but police aren't saying Williams had an ulterior motive. She lives in the same apartment complex as the family -- maybe she was lonely. Still, the cops want her charged with a felony custodial interference.

Such consequences seem appropriate -- but also a sad fact of modern life. A century ago, the woman's actions might have resulted only in a hearty, "Thanks, neighbor!"

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern