BREAKING: Sex offender arrested after parents thwart attempted kidnap of children, 3 and 4

LAKE ELSINORE — Details are beginning to emerge after a registered sex offender tried to snatch two young children from a Lake Elsinore park this morning, Monday, Mar. 11. Today’s terrifying incident happened at Rosetta Canyon Sports Park, south of Rosetta Canyon Dr. and Ardenwood Way.

The alleged suspect was reportedly apprehended by several witnesses and citizens – including an off-duty law enforcement officer – who chased the man down after the victims’ mother and other witnesses wrestled the children back from the alleged suspect.

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Contacted this morning for more details and information about the incident, Riverside Sheriff’s spokesperson Robyn Flores confirmed that deputies investigating the incident determined a man had been apprehended after attempting to abduct two small children from a play area at the park.

Deputies assigned to Lake Elsinore Police Department were first alerted to the attempted abductions around 11:30 a.m., after witnesses called to report the incidents, Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Fredericks later explained. 911 callers told emergency dispatchers that bystanders had managed to chase the alleged suspect down and apprehend him, and that they were detaining him until police arrived.

Several family members and witnesses, including an off-duty officer, chased down and apprehended a registered sex offender who attempted to abduct two children, ages 3 and 4 this morning. Vanessa Mangrut photo

According to witnesses, a deputy arrived within minutes of the dispatched call and quickly handcuffed the man, later identified as 29-year-old, Lake Elsinore resident, Marcus DeWitt. DeWitt is a registered sex offender, according to Fredericks.

The two young children, described as 3 and 4-year-old boys, were at the park with their parents and other family members when Dewitt “tried to grab the 3-year-old male child by the arm,” said Fredericks. “The child was partially inside of a play apparatus and DeWitt was unsuccessful.”

After failing to snatch the first child, “DeWitt then picked up a 4-year-old male victim and attempted to flee the area with him,” Fredericks continued. “The victim’s parents and other family members observed the abduction, and were able to catch DeWitt and wrestle the child out of his grasp.”

After the second failed abduction, DeWitt attempted to flee the park on foot, “but was subdued by a family member of the victim,” said Fredericks. “Additional witnesses and family members detained DeWitt until officers arrived and took him into custody without further incident.”

Marcus DeWitt, a registered sex offender, sits and waits for deputies to arrive after he attempted to abduct two toddlers from a play area at Lake Elsinore ‘s Rosetta Canyon Sports Park. Vanessa Mangrut photo

One parent, Vanessa Mongrut – who was visiting the park and witnessed the attempted abduction – later posted photographs and video of Dewitt’s apprehension and arrest on Facebook.

“The little boy is fine,” Mongrut explained on social media, saying she and the victims’ mother “snatched the boy back from the kidnapper.”

“They were fortunate to have an off-duty police officer who happened to be at the park when it was happening,” another area resident and witness later commented.

After Dewitt was in custody, deputies interviewed family members and other witnesses, as well as those who had helped chase the man down, before transporting him to Lake Elsinore PD for further interviews and investigation.

A deputy arrests a man who citizens detained after two separate failed abductions. Vanessa Mangrut photo

Neither child was injured during the terrifying ordeal and both were returned to their respective families.

After being processed, DeWitt will be booked at the Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on kidnapping and other related charges, according to Fredericks. As of this report, he had not yet been booked into jail.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Investigator Matt Posson of the Lake Elsinore Police Department at (951) 245-3300. Callers can refer to incident file number L190700043 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

Marcus DeWitt will be booked into jail on kidnapping and other related charges, according to officials.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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