A pair of young boys in Ford Heights, IL are now being credited for saving the life of a 9-year-old girl that was in the middle of a kidnapping by a park district employee. Thanks to them, the girl was safely returned to her family after a presumably traumatizing experience. 

This past Saturday, Charles Howard reportedly invited a group of children to his home around 9:45 p.m to show off a pair of 3-D smartphone goggles according to ABC 7. While three of the children left, the girl stayed behind by herself. The group later went back for the girl, but Howard claimed she wasn’t there.

Later on that night, Juan Willingham, 14, and Jakarri Foster, 12, claim they found her tied up and pinned under a lawnmower in Howard’s backyard. After working to free the girl, the boys claim Howard came out of his house with a weapon. The boys and the girl took off running and were able to get away safely.

“He took out a gun, cocked it, aimed it as and we took off running,” Willingham said.

“It’s very disheartening,” said President of Ford Heights Park District, George Green. “It throws a bad light, not only on the park district, but it throws a bad light on the community at large, because the community is starting to turn around.”

A man who claims he used to be a neighbor of Howard’s said that he often had concerns with his actions around young girls.

“My baby, she’s not doing good. Won’t stay in her bedroom, constantly staying with me, which I understand,” said Tasha Woodson,  the girl’s mother. Fortunately, after the girl was rushed to the hospital, there was no evidence of any injuries. At least, none of the physical sort.

“They kept looking, kept looking. If it meant them giving their life – because basically, that’s what they did,” Woodson continued. “They could have given their life because this man chased them with a gun. But they were brave and they brought my baby home. They brought her home. I thank them for that.”

Howard has been arrested and charged with counts of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. With a bond se at $500,000, he’ll likely remain in custody until he’s due back in court on July 1.

Photo Credit: Laura Podesta Twitter