Homeless Vernon man tried to kidnap 5-year-old on playground - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Homeless Vernon man tried to kidnap 5-year-old on playground

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A homeless man in Vernon was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted kidnapping.

On Monday, police said John Harker was at Talcott Park and was extremely drunk. Police said a 15-year-old and a 5-year-old were playing on a playscape when Harker approached the two and asked the 5-year-old to play on a set of swings with him.

The teen and little boy both said no, but police said Harker was very persistent and grabbed the little boy by the arm.

The teen then grabbed the boy's other arm and began to struggle for him. Police said a concerned citizen was also at the park, witnessed what was taking place and intervened.

The teen and boy both left the park and police said Harker followed them for a while before turning back and heading to the park.

"I always keep her close," said Lynnette of Vernon after learning about the incident Thursday.

Police were notified of the situation when the boys returned home. They went back to the park with police and the concerned citizen was still there and gave their account of the events.

An arrest warrant was applied for and granted and Harker was arrested after he was spotted walking down the street.

Harker was arrested just after 4 p.m. Tuesday and was charged with breach of peace, criminal attempted kidnapping, risk of injury to a child and threatening.

"We still really don't know what his motive was," said Vernon Police Lt. Jim Grady. "If he was just intoxicated and he was behaving inappropriately. Or his motive was something, you know, worse than that."

Police told Eyewitness News that Harker admitted to the crime, but officers had a hard time getting answers from him because of his drunken state.

Harker is being held on a $75,000 bond and appeared in Superior Court in Rockville Thursday.

He has previously served nine months in jail after a 2005 assault conviction and was convicted of harassment in 2005. Harker violated a protective order in 2011 with no prison time and served 30 days in jail after being convicted of third-degree assault.

Harker also has previous convictions in New Jersey, including assault.

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