Violence may be physical instantly as in an ambush or setup through a process. The Most Dangerous Abduction Lures will take us through some of the most common approaches used to attract and lure in a victim. The abductor whether searching for an adult or child wants an easy target. Most people think of children being lured, but people of all ages fall for any of several abduction lures. The next few blog posts will focus on these lures. This first one I will address I am calling, the “Could You Please Help Me” abduction lure.
This one is common. It is a successful abduction lure some of the most notorious rapists and murderers have used. One name brought up often is Ted Bundy who confessed to 30 murders although most agree the real number was much higher.
His name and story might be the most recognizable to people. I will not focus on how he became so evil but want to point out how he used this abduction lure.
- Sometimes, he went to the step of violence with his victims, but others he lured them in by appearing to have a physical disability like a broken arm. He would ask for help near his car where he would use force to abduct them, put them in the car, then taken to another location where he would sexually assault, torture, and kill them disposing of the body.
- Others said in the location of some of these abductions they recall a man on crutches struggling while carrying a briefcase or fumbling with books seeking help when they fell.
- Another example is when he approached a 14-year-old girl in his van and struck up a conversation with the intention to lure her in until her brother arrived scaring him off.
- Another story in ATI, “The brazen abductions happened in broad daylight. Later, witnesses reported that a man with his left arm in a sling had approached them, introduced himself as Ted, and asked for help rigging his sailboat to his car. One young woman initially obliged but grew hesitant when she approached his brown Volkswagen Beetle with no sailboat in sight. “Oh. I forgot to tell you. It’s at my folks’ house — just a jump up the hill,” he said in a slight British accent. When he motioned to the passenger door, she bolted. A little while later, she saw another woman walking beside the man toward the parking lot, deep in conversation.
- He was also to many a very good-looking man, which is another strategy one may employ.
Could You Please Help Me?
Why does this abduction lure work on both children and adults? Because it is human nature for most people to want to help someone else. Children, teens, and adults often have no ability to see when someone is pretending or faking their need for help. Their overriding desire to help someone in need takes over and the abductor can sense if they have chosen a good potential victim or if they need to choose another. And because the abductor has a plan, they are then one or multiple steps ahead of who they have targeted. Also, apathy and denial come into play with adults. If they are the one being targeted, many adults feel being adults they would and could never fall victim to this lure only to find out they have when it is often too late. Both children and adults fall for this abduction lure. Let us first look at kids. It is critical to understand that many adults think telling children to not fall for these tricks is enough.
They will tell their kids something like, “Never go near a stranger who asks for your help.“ They may say it once, or several times, but with seldom more than saying it and asking if the child understands. Even with a significant amount of training where a parent tells their child to not go with a stranger or fall for the “could you please help me find my puppy.” Teaching them over and over by just telling them to not do something is not enough. It takes in-depth chats understanding their age, what they can keep and understand along with knowing your child’s personality. Where is your child more susceptible mentally and physically to this lure? Kids are so innocent, trusting, and without experience to identify this lure, which is why with younger kids it is essential the parents do not leave their kids alone at too young an age even if for a few seconds. I have shown parents VIDEOS of child abductions to illustrate how fast an abduction can take place. At first most parents are in a state of denial that it could happen to them, but with repeated examples and asking if they think those parents in the videos thought the same as they do, they begin to see how it could happen. Sure, the chance of this happening may be slim, but it is too high a risk to take when you can adopt some strategies that are simple. The “could you please help me?” strategy may only take a few seconds if the abductor is in one aisle of a store while you are in the next. Or they may have much more time to implement the strategy depending on the location and number of people around.
Also, with the abductor being skilled, they can often drop the lure and explain their actions if confronted. If attempting to abduct a child, their explanation may be more difficult to present, where with an adult can successfully explained. And too often when the explanation is given, people feel bad for having thought the worst. Never feel that way, I would much rather feel foolish than the alternative. Remember, the criminal is particularly good at what they do, and their ability to manipulate through questions, explanations, and make people feel “bad” is how they are successful. And due to their ability to manipulate you into feeling bad, the next time a similar situation comes up, you are more likely to fall victim to their manipulation. Your intuition overrides everything and is unique each time you get it.
Further to my comments on manipulation if you do not want to help and you express that, many abductors will make you feel guilty for not helping. This again is remarkably successful in luring in the victim. If they see you hesitate in helping for just a moment, it may be the signal for them to use the strategy of guilt.
Now it may appear I am saying you should help no one. Not true but take several things into consideration as an adult.
- Where are you being asked for help? Are you in an isolated location with no one around?
- Are you by yourself? You are a more attractive target if you are alone.
- What are they asking for help with? Does it seem reasonable to ask you for help with whatever their issue is?
- What does your intuition tell you? If any feeling of being unsure, decline and move on, keeping awareness to where they are.
- Do they make you feel bad for not helping? This is an enormous warning sign that should confirm why you want to escape to a safer location.
Then consider how I mentioned Ted Bundy being good looking. If not good looking it is hard to argue he is not at least “normal looking.” This again plays into the success of the abductor on adults or children. One example is a famous case in Canada of a guy called Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka often referred to as the “Ken and Barbie Killers” because they were attractive. I used to show a picture of 4 headshots of men to high school girls I was teaching and asked who they would most trust at first glance. Now, of the four pictures, three of them were of men who were not particularly good-looking. Now I suspected most would pick the picture of Paul Bernardo, but I did not suspect they would pick him about 90% of the time. When asked why, they almost invariably said because he was “very good-looking” or “hot”. More important is for the person to understand the behaviour of the person in front of them. Is what they are asking reasonable, what does your intuition tell you at the time, disregard looking strictly at their appearance. Many do receive a bad gut feeling based on looks whether good looking or not. There is no one simple step, but never strictly decide on helping based on their appearance. They may be hoping that is how you will decide.
Regarding children, no adult should ask any question at all to begin with and most often the abductor will not if the adult is present and paying attention. I would never consider asking a child for any help. Telling kids to not do something may be enough for some or not. But depending on age, you also do not want to shelter kids from anyone and everyone, otherwise they do not learn to trust their own intuitions. More important is to let your kids experience conversations with you by their side and ask them how they felt after. These are opportunities to both discuss what is appropriate and not appropriate when you are with them or not. This is all dependent on age. Keep the kids always within your view and not more than a couple feet away.
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Managing Director, SAFE International