Detroit officers made a traffic stop – and found 4 abducted children

The suspect had lured the children into her van by saying she was taking them to school, police said


By Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

DETROIT — Detroit police officers who noticed something peculiar about a woman and four children in a van they stopped for a traffic violation saved the youngsters from a kidnapping, authorities said Friday.

The Tuesday stop on the city's northwest side and the arrest of a woman accused of abducting the youngsters — an 11-year-old boy, an 8-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl, and a 5-year-old boy — were detailed Friday in court and at a news conference where the children's mother tearfully thanked the officers for rescuing them.

Stephanie Marie Binder, 37, was arraigned in 36th District Court on four counts of kidnapping-child enticement, four counts of unlawful imprisonment, one count of unlawfully driving away of an automobile, and one count of receiving and concealing stolen property-motor vehicle. She was given a bond of $5 million.

"It's quite frankly terrifying," Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Emily Annal said during the hearing. "These kids were simply walking to school on Tuesday morning and are essentially lured and taken into the van. If the officers hadn't pulled them over, who knows where these children would be."

According to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, Detroit police officers stopped a car with a woman and the children inside after the vehicle went through a red light about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday on Grand River and Evergreen on the city's northwest side.

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Binder, according to statements in court Friday, was driving around in a van that allegedly was marked like it belonged to a daycare center.

When officers approached the passenger side of the vehicle, they observed the four children in the back seat of the van, which allegedly had been stolen, according to the prosecutor's office.

The defendant allegedly lured the children into the van by telling them she was taking them to school and told the officers who stopped her the same thing.

But the officers, while questioning the driver, noticed the children's body language, which showed they did not know the woman and were in trouble. Officers took the driver into custody, and safely returned the children to their family.

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Annal told court officials Friday that Binder, who initially said the kidnapped children were hers, eventually admitted that she did not know them. Annal said the kidnapping is every parent's "worst" nightmare.

She said Binder has an extensive criminal history that includes retail fraud and a prior felony involving a fatal accident; she was just discharged from parole in April.

A probable cause conference for Binder is scheduled for Dec. 14 and a preliminary examination is scheduled for her Dec. 21 in 36th District Court before Judge Kenneth King.

During a Friday news conference at Detroit Police headquarters, the officers were commended for their "great" police work — especially for noticing the behavior of the defendant and the children in the van — by Chief James White.

"The body language (of the driver) was off. The body language of the children was off," White said. "Thankfully, our officers that made the traffic stop had the instinct and intuition to ask the next question and not just write the ticket. If they had done that, we would be having a very different conversation."

[NEXT: Video: Police track down kidnapping suspect, save 6-year-old]

(c)2021 The Detroit News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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