PHILADELPHIA — Authorities said Tuesday that a 7-year-old girl was grabbed, kicking and screaming, from in front of her home and less than 20 minutes later a caller demanded a $150,000 ransom to save the girl’s life.
Police were seeking to question two men who know the girl’s family but wouldn’t say whether the men were considered suspects in the abduction of Erica Pratt.
Police Inspector Bill Colarulo said they were searching for the men, James Burns, 29, and Edward Johnson, 23, because they may have information that “could possibly shed light” on the girl’s whereabouts.
The men’s names were given to authorities by two people who witnessed of the girl’s abduction, Colarulo said.
Erica was playing with her 5-year-old sister in front of their grandmother’s rowhouse Monday evening when two men drove up, called her by name and dragged her into their car as she screamed and resisted, witnesses told police.
Less than 20 minutes later, Erica’s grandmother and primary caregiver, Barbara Pratt, received the first of at least six calls from a man who threatened to kill the girl unless he received a $150,000 ransom, police said.
Colarulo declined to reveal details about the case Tuesday but said detectives believed the girl was still alive.
“I’m confident that Erica is going to be returned safely,” he said.
He wouldn’t say when the last ransom demand was made or whether the caller offered proof that he had the child. A $10,000 reward was offered for information.