A woman allegedly offered to buy two young children from a mother at Indian Mounds Regional Park in St. Paul on Wednesday evening, according to authorities.
The mother was in a bathroom stall with her 1-year-old daughter when she heard her 4-year-old daughter speaking with someone.
“ ‘Who are you talking to?’ ” Sgt. Mike Ernster said the mother called out. “She heard someone say, ‘Shhh.’ She opened the door and saw an unknown female holding her daughter’s hand.”
The 59-year-old female suspect and her 60-year-old male companion were arrested and booked into the Ramsey County jail. They had not been charged as of late Thursday.
Ernster, a police spokesman, said that although authorities “always” look for links between crimes, it’s too early to say whether Wednesday’s incident is related to the unsolved assault on a 5-year-old girl who was found bleeding and partly undressed near her bus stop on the corner of Cook Avenue and Park Street on May 2.
According to the police report, the female suspect asked the woman how much it would cost to buy both of her children. Ernster said the suspect did not give a reason for her offer, nor did she quote a dollar amount.
The two women left the restroom, and the male suspect was standing “right outside,” Ernster said. The woman told police she believed he was acting as a lookout.
The woman alerted her husband, who was nearby, as the two suspects walked to a car. He notified a park security officer, who called police.
The suspects were arrested without incident.
Ernster said the incident was handled well by all parties involved, from the parents to the security officer to police. He said he has not heard of similar incidents at the park, which was the scene of a recent homicide.
In April, an alleged gang feud erupted at a barbecue gathering of about 300 people, and Bobby D. Collins was fatally shot.
“Mounds Park is very safe, and we’re working with all of our partners to keep it safe,” Ernster said.
Wednesday’s incident is the third abduction case in St. Paul this month. In addition to the May 2 case in which the 5-year-old girl was apparently taken from her bus stop and assaulted before she was spotted across the street by a bus driver, a 7-year-old girl was abducted and allegedly sexually assaulted on May 5.
Mark S. Meihofer was arrested and charged in the 7-year-old’s abduction. Police have said that he is not a suspect in the May 2 case, which remains a “very high priority.”