PHILADELPHIA - A 5-year-old girl who was taken from a Philadelphia school was found safe Tuesday morning just outside the city, police said.
Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said Nelson Mandela Myers was walking to work around 4:40 a.m. when he heard cries for help and found Nailla Robinson hiding under a jungle gym in a park, wearing only a T-shirt. She was taken to an area hospital to be checked out, Chitwood said, but is expected to be OK.
“When I was walking past the playground, I heard a scream saying, ‘Help! Help!’ And when I heard it, I saw the little girl underneath the slide,” Nelson Mandela Myers said.
Mandela Myers said when he found Robinson she was barefoot and wearing only a long wet black T-shirt.
“She said she was cold, and someone was chasing her so she ran,” Mandela Myers said. “I asked where her mother and father were, and all she could say was that someone was chasing her.”
The investigation is ongoing, Chitwood said, and police are continuing to search for the girl's abductor.
“She just reminded me of my daughter so much because she's the same size. It's just, when I picked her up, it reminded me of her,” Mandela Myers said.
Police said Robinson was taken Monday morning from the Bryant School. Authorities released surveillance video showing a woman wearing a full-length, black Muslim garment, her face covered by a black veil, taking the girl out of the school.
Lt. John Walker told the Philadelphia Daily News the woman introduced herself as "Tiffany," but her signature in the school visitor log was illegible.
“We believe the female that entered the school was a stranger, and was absolutely unknown to the 5-year-old,” said Capt. John Darby, commanding officer of Special Victims.
Investigators said they think the woman took Robinson to a home where there was a second suspect, a man. There, investigators believe, they changed her into an adult T-shirt.
Police said they don’t know how the girl ended up at the playground.
Nailla's mother had appeared on local media Monday night, tearfully pleading for her safe return, and explaining how she also wears the traditional chador and niqab.
School district officials said that allowing the girl to leave school with an unknown adult was a "serious break in procedure." District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the woman didn't wait at the school's front office as is district policy but went to her classroom and told a teacher that the child had already been "checked out" of school.
Police discovered that the girl was missing later that afternoon, when a caretaker from the child's after-school program came to pick her up.
The situation triggered an Amber Alert that sent emergency text messages to a lot of cellphones throughout the state.
The Fraternal Order of Police is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.