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MPD issues warning as FBI called in to investigate abductions and sexual assaults in South Memphis

Memphis Police are asking anyone with information to give them a call, "regardless of how minor you think your information might be."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police have issued a warning and said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been called in to help investigate a number of abductions and sexual assaults in South Memphis.

MPD said a man in his early 20s has been approaching young females in the early morning hours in the communities of Gaslight, Bunker Hill, and Cane Creek. Investigators said the man is in a dark-colored SUV and has forced the girls into his vehicle. Police said on more than one occasion, the girl was sexually assaulted.

MPD, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI are all investigating. MPD investigators said they believe the incidents are connected and are hoping the public can help in the investigation.

MPD also said it is working with Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) to provide extra patrols in the communities.

“We appeal to everyone who lives, works, or frequents the area to help us in the investigation,” said MPD in a news release. “Regardless of how minor you think your information might be or whether you think we are already aware of it, please let us access the information.”

MPD is asking anyone with information, or anyone who may have been approached and offered a ride by a stranger, to call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH (2274).

Previous reports

This all comes after MSCS issued a warning to parents about an abduction in South Memphis on April 13. MPD said the girl was abducted and sexually assaulted on her was to school in the Hamilton area. At the time, MSCS said it was working with the Memphis Police Department (MPD) to determine if that incident was related to a suspicious man who school leaders said was reported to be in the area in March "attempting to pick up students against their will."

MPD did not say if the April 13th incident is related to Wednesday's warning.

MSCS response to MPD warning

MSCS released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying it has twice alerted the community about similar events.

“We are asking our families and community to continue to assist us by being extra sets of eyes and ears,” said MSCS Superintendent Toni Williams. “In this moment, we must unite and work together to keep our children safe.”

In response to this continuing issue, MSCS Safety and Security has additional officers stationed at Hamilton High and Hamilton K-8.

We are asking any students who may have been approached by a suspicious person to share information to help in this effort. Parents and guardians, please talk to your children. Ask them if they have witnessed or experienced anything fitting this pattern. If so, please contact law enforcement immediately.

As we regularly say, if you see something, say something. Please also encourage your child to be aware of their surroundings, walk with a friend – or better yet in a group – and report any suspicious or unusual behavior immediately.

If you have information, or if you were approached and offered a ride by a suspicious individual, please call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 901-528-2274 (CASH). MSCS has a confidential tip line for students, families and staff. Submit an anonymous tip through the Safe School Web Tip Line or by texting "SCS" to 274637. Students can also submit a tip to a trusted school administrator through the “Trust Pays” program for a cash reward.

“Principals, teachers, MPD, and school resource officers are all available to talk to any student who has information to share,” said MSCS Chief of Safety and Security Carolyn Jackson. “We are working collaboratively to end this threat because all children have the right to walk home safely.”

MPD offers these safety suggestions: 

  • Pay attention and be aware of your surroundings
    • Eyes up, phones down
  • Walk in pairs or groups whenever possible
  • Do not get into a vehicle with anyone you do not know
  • Report any suspicious vehicle or activities
    • This includes a stranger offering you a ride
  • Remember, these incidents occurred in the morning when it was light outside.

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