Abducted from School: Kendall

Stranger Danger
"I can't even rest right now. I just want my baby! I want my daughter!" says a tearful Natasha, speaking to local reporters following the disappearance of her daughter, Kendall.


Local news reports tell the story of Kendall's abduction. Around 5:00 p.m. a stranger walked into the Precious Blood School in Banning, where Kendall attended, and asked for her by name.

Natasha says, "I arrived to school right about 5:40, and when I got there the after-school aide was surprised to see me, and I said, 'Where's Kendall?' She was like, 'She was just picked up,' and I said, 'No, she couldn't have been picked up,' and she was like, 'Yeah.' I'm hysterical by this time, and I'm like, 'Well, who picked her up? Who was this person?' And she said, 'I don't know.' And I said, 'Did you ask for I.D.?' And she said, 'No, she seemed to know him.' The aide said that the man walked in and said, 'I'm here to pick up Kendall.' She didn't think anything of it. He just seemed like he was supposed to be there, and they walked off the grounds. I was just so angry because I couldn't believe that had happened, and just panicking because how could this happen, and why?"

The police received a school picture of Kendall and issued an Amber alert. Based on an anonymous call, they were able to locate Kendall and her alleged abductor, 47-year-old Thomas Dorsey, Jr., within minutes. Kendall was returned to her mother with no sign of injury.

"I was just praying that she was OK, but every hour, you know, just expecting the worst," Natasha told reporters after her daughter was recovered.

Natasha explains, "Kendall said that the man told her that I was waiting outside at the mailbox, and so that's why she went, because she thought I was just right outside. She realized when she was already in the car that she made a mistake, but it was too late.

"I think that because Kendall was African American and because this African-American man came to the school, it was just assumed that they were together. We've been at this school for four years. They know our family.

 

"I feel betrayed. I feel like I'm paying tuition for my child to be safe, because I didn't want her in public school dealing with hundreds of kids, just 100 children at this school. Kendall has not returned to school. She's very clingy now, where she was very independent before. She doesn't want to stay in any room by herself. She's gone back to sleeping with us again, and she doesn't want to talk about it, so we really haven't dealt with it yet, until she's ready to talk about it."

Dr. Phil sits down with Natasha; her husband, Gary, who has raised Kendall since she was 6 months old; and their attorney, Areva Martin.

"First off," Dr. Phil begins, "I have to tell you I am just so glad that we're here talking about Kendall, who has been recovered and is alive and is well, because we all know this could go way, way bad, way, way differently. What was it like when you found out she was gone?"

"I was in shock initially," she says. "I couldn't believe it. I just kept asking the aide, 'What are you talking about? How could this happen?' Because I had just talked to my husband on the phone, and I knew he had picked up our son from school, and so I knew it wasn't he who picked her up. And [the after-school aide] said, 'Yeah, a man just came not too long ago and picked her up.' She was shocked to see me there too, because Kendall was already gone. And so immediately we ran to the office, but I just felt " you know, your heart starts beating so fast because you're just trying to just get ahold of what could have happened."

Gary describes his reaction to Natasha's panicked phone call, saying, "When she told me, she just said, 'Kendall is missing from school.' And she asked me did I pick Kendall up. I said, 'No, Honey. I didn't pick Kendall up. I'm getting the oil changed. So, when she told me that, I was terrified."

Dr. Phil asks what immediate actions the school took.

"Right away we ran to the principal's office," says Natasha, "and we told her what had happened, and she called the police."

"Did this man ask for Kendall by name?" asks Dr. Phil.

"He asked for her by name," she replies, "just her first name, and the aide took the man to where Kendall was, and told Kendall to get her backpack and asked him to sign her out. And he signed her out, just her first name. He didn't know her last name."

"What did Kendall say about going with the man?" asks Dr. Phil.

"He said, 'Your mom is right outside, so she sent me in to pick you up.' So she went with him," Natasha recounts.

"Had you talked with her about this before?"

"Yes, definitely," says Natasha firmly. She explains that she does not allow her daughter to talk to strangers except when they are together, and even then only to say hi.

Dr. Phil turns to Areva. "Is there liability here on the part of the school, and are you all thinking about filing suit?" he asks.

"Absolutely, Dr. Phil, liability," she begins. "The school has acknowledged that their policies were not followed, and to have a complete stranger show up at a school and be able to take a child off that campus is just reprehensible. And one of the things that's really galling about this case is, as you can see, the abductor, is an African-American male, and Kendall was the only African-American child in the elementary school on this campus, so there was a presumption that Kendall and the family knew this man because of their race, and that is just appalling."

"She was [abducted] for five hours," says Dr. Phil turning back to Natasha. "What has she said about what happened during that time?"

"She said that they were driving around," Natasha explains. "He gave her chips. He kept saying that he was calling me on the cell phone. She gave him my cell phone number, and he was acting like he was calling me on the phone."

"What does she say when you ask her to talk about it?" Dr. Phil probes.

"She doesn't want to talk about it," says Natasha. "She just says, 'No,' you know, like " and then she'll start talking about something else, or playing, or she'll do something else. She doesn't want to discuss it." Kendall hasn't returned to school since the incident.

Dr. Phil says, "One of the things that we always look at from a professional standpoint, as you well know, to determine if a child has been traumatized in some way is if they start showing regressive behavior, if they start going back to an earlier level of functioning, right? And she has become very clingy with you, she's started coming to your bed, she has shown some regressive behavior here." Natasha agrees. Dr. Phil explains that while the greatest fear was that Kendall could have been killed, the second greatest fear is that her abductor could have molested her. "Is it your theory that she was or was not? Do you know?" he asks.

"I did ask her that, and she said no," says Natasha. "We also had a medical examination to prove that."

"But she certainly has been traumatized," says Dr. Phil. "We know that."