Fact Check

Westfield Mall Abduction

An attempted abduction took place at the Westfield Mall in Toledo?

Published Dec. 17, 2010


Claim:   An attempted abduction took place at the Westfield Mall in Toledo.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2010]

Today I was told about an abduction at Westfield Mall. I will not mention the parties involved but the story has been verified by reliable sources. A woman was at Westfield Mall with her 14 year old daughter shopping when the daughter told her mother she was going to the restroom. It was taking longer than necessary so the mother started toward the restroom and saw two men holding up a young woman between them who appeared to be drunk. She looked down at the shoes and recognized them to be her daughters. She screamed and security caught the two men. They had drugged the daughter and cut her hair.

The police were called. A van was found in the parking lot with 4 more young girls in the back. According to the father of the young girl, this is a drug and prostitution ring that the police and FBI have been aware of and this has been going on for a year at that location. Why hasn’t this been in the news? Are we worried that people will stop shopping!!!!!



Origins:   In October 2010, the Toledo Blade began fielding inquiries from concerned citizens about an attempted abduction that had supposedly taken place at a local shopping mall. According to the rumor, two men attempted to kidnap a teenaged girl from a bathroom at the Westfield Franklin Park Mall; their nefarious plot was foiled by the girl's mother, who recognized her daughter's shoes on the unconscious girl the ill-intentioned were trying to spirit away from the building. In each of the tellings, the girl was rescued, but the abductors got away and were seen racing to a van where other girls were already being held captive. The rumor spread to the online world, and by December 2010 had become a popular e-mail.

There was nothing to the tale, though. Police Chief Mike Navarre of Toledo, the location of the Westfield Franklin Park Mall, said he thoroughly investigated the rumors by checking for any 911 calls, police reports, criminal investigations, and talking with mall security. He found nothing to support the story being circulated. Said Navarre, "There was absolutely no evidence, whatsoever, that anything remotely close to this had occurred."

The Westfield Franklin Park mall also said the following:

This rumor is false. The Toledo police department has conducted a thorough investigation and determined that no such incident has ever been witnessed or reported at Westfield Franklin Park.

The 2010 Westfield mall abduction hoax employs two standard components of the "child kidnapped from Disneyland or large box store" legend that has been around since the mid-1970s: The kidnappers disguise their target's hair in some way (shaved, dyed, or covered with a wig) in an attempt conceal her identity from those looking for her, but the mother's recognition of her child's shoes trips them up and results in the rescue of the youngster.

Barbara "shod squad" Mikkelson

Last updated:   19 December 2010


    Wells, Colleen.   "Westfield Mall Kidnapping Rumors Not True."

    WTOL 11 [Toledo].   14 December 2010.

    Toledo Blade.   "Police: Westfield Franklin Park Abduction Story Untrue."

    15 December 2010.

    WKBN-TV [Youngstown, OH].   "Ohio Police: Mall Kidnap Story Going Viral Is Hoax."

    16 December 2010.