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Fort Worth Police Department

Michael Webb, the man accused of kidnapping Salem Sabatka, an 8-year-old Fort Worth girl, had an FBI hold placed on him last week and will now face federal kidnapping charges, in addition to state charges of aggravated kidnapping. 

Webb, 51, who moved to South Fort Worth several months ago, had previously been found guilty of burglary, drug possession, and theft in Bowie County, and he had been arrested on several other occasions in Tyler, Texas. But nothing in Webb’s known history suggested that he would kidnap a young girl who was walking with her mother in their Ryan Place neighborhood in broad daylight. And yet that’s what videotape from a neighbor’s anti-burglary camera caught a week ago Saturday at 6:38pm. Not only was it not Webb’s M-O, the Fort Worth police could find no connection between Webb and the Sabatka family, and no ransom demand followed the abduction. Additionally, according to the police, Salem was found unharmed — other than the trauma she sustained during the ordeal — after her eight hours of horror ended.

According to several reports, and visible on the front door cam, Webb, driving a silver coupe, pulled up next to Salem and her mother, stopped the car, and forced the girl into it. Her mother screamed and frantically tried to fight him, but he pushed her out of the car and took off. An Amber Alert was put out almost immediately, and police and hundreds of concerned civilians began scouring the city for the car or the girl.

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One of those concerned citizens was Jeff King, pastor of the Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller, who had received a text about the abduction. In news clips, King explained that he knew the girl’s father and called a friend. That’s when the two began to search. He looked in city parks and at least one motel, with no luck, before finding what he thought was the car at the WoodSprings Suites hotel in Forest Hill just after 2am. Both Forest Hill and Fort Worth police officers responded and captured Webb. 

Fort Worth police public information officer Ivan Gomez told Fort Worth Weekly that “it was a community effort to find her, and it was a great effort, and she was found and is safe and with her family. We are all glad for that.”   

So are we. And we hope she can somehow get past the trauma. Good luck, Salem.

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