Man charged with abducting child


A 22-year-old West Baltimore man is being held on charges that he abducted a 4-year-old girl from an elementary school last week and then demanded ransom money from the mother.

Ronald Louis Hall of the 1300 block of W. Mosher St. was charged with kidnapping, abduction and extortion. He was being held yesterday in lieu of $150,000 bail in the Baltimore City Detention Center and has an April 7 hearing date.

School officials said teachers at Bentalou Elementary School in the 200 block of N. Bentalou St., were concerned and "very upset" over the incident, which occurred just after the girl's mother dropped her off for a pre-kindergarten class.

"We have never had an abduction before," said Nat Harrington, a spokesman for the city school system, adding that the Bentalou staff "run a very tight ship. . . . They were concerned about how this could happen and who would do this to a child."

Sam Ringgold, a city police spokesman, said the suspect -- the girl's mother's ex-boyfriend -- watched as Regina Oliver dropped off her daughter, Jasmine Higgins, at the school March 7 about 8:45 a.m. When the mother left, the man walked into the building.

Police said the man told members of the office staff that he had to take the girl for a dentist appointment.

Mr. Harrington disputed that account, saying Mr. Hall walked by the office and remained out of view in a hallway, then beckoned the child from outside the classroom.

The man took the girl to an unknown location, where he called the mother, police said. "I've got your daughter. Get enough money for me to leave town," he told her, according to Mr. Ringgold. The spokesman added that the man told Ms. Oliver that if she called the police, he would harm the child. He did not demand a specific amount of money.

Mr. Ringgold said the man instructed Ms. Oliver to get a room at the North Avenue Motel, in the 100 block of W. North Ave., and bring the money. He gave her one hour.

Ms. Oliver called police, and city homicide detectives helped her get a room at the motel and set up a meeting time. Officers arrested Mr. Hall when he arrived.

Police found Jasmine, who was not harmed, across the street inside a McDonald's restaurant.

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