Watch the heartbreaking moment of the mom being pushed away from the car.
Video credit: WFAA
One fear that lurks at the back of every parent’s mind is having a child taken away before their eyes yet being helpless in the face of it. Yet such a scenario became a terrifying reality in the Ryan Place neighborhood of Fort Worth, Texas when an 8-year-old girl got snatched from her mother.
On May 18,2019, Salem Sabatka was walking with her mom down the street when a gray Ford Five Hundred suddenly stopped next to them around 6:38 pm. Michael Webb, 51, allegedly grabbed Salem and forced her into the car.
A doorbell camera captured the chilling scene that showed Salem’s mom trying to fight off Webb in the car but was pushed out into the pavement before he drove away.
Jeff King was a friend of Salem’s family and was also a local pastor. Immediately following the abduction, he received a text message stating what happened.
Speaking to KTRK-TV, King said, “I was sitting at home with my wife when a friend texted and said that our friends’ daughter had been kidnapped. All I could think is what are we going to do to help?”
Accompanied by a friend, King went to the crime scene where a plainclothes officer enlisted his help.
“He just said … look at parks, apartment buildings and hotels,” King told KXAS-TV.
The hours after the kidnapping was filled with posts and photos of Salem and the suspect’s car circulating on social media. The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of Homeland Security also participated in the search.
King and his friend were continuing their search when they suddenly received a tip on social media around midnight that directed them to one hotel in the Forest Hill area of Fort Worth. However, it appeared to be a bust as the suspect’s car was nowhere to be seen.
King and his friend moved on but upon passing the Wood Springs Suites, he suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to turn into the area.
King told KTRK, “We had been checking parks all night and this was the second hotel we checked. I was just driving on the access road. It was right there and so I just kind of hit the break and turned in.”
Sure enough, they found a vehicle that fit the description of the suspect’s car.
King quickly called the police, who immediately converged on the building and confirmed that both Salem and the suspect were inside. They managed to successfully rescue Salem and take the suspect into custody.
“It was a crazy moment. I asked the police, ‘Did I hear that right? Did they find her? Is she safe?’” King said. “Then finally one officer said, ‘Yes sir, they have her.’”
King said it was God who led them to the hotel.
“God literally led us to this place. It was not on my itinerary, I was not trying to go there, we just drove by. It was divine intervention, 100 percent,” he said.
After Webb’s arrest, the police allowed King to be the one to inform Salem’s family of the good news. Both the community and law enforcement were ecstatic.
“I feel like God allowed me to be a tool and that’s it,” King said.
A media conference was held in Ryan Place where King led the thanksgiving prayer and was also thanked by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, including Salem’s family and the police chief.
“I have two boys and I would have wanted as many eyes looking out for my boys as possible,” King said.
While Salem’s family is still too overwhelmed to make a public statement, Salem’s grandmother did say that the family is very thankful for the community support, reported KXAS-TV.
On Sunday evening, a community walk in Salem’s neighborhood was held to celebrate her safe return.
“Gas Station Worker Saves Kidnapped Woman”