Reynoldsburg News

Man charged in attempted abduction of student


A 23-year-old resident of a group home on Bartlett Road in Reynoldsburg is in jail under $1.5 million bond for allegedly attempting to kidnap a 10-year-old girl from a school bus stop at Rosehill and Bartlett roads last week.

Reynoldsburg police charged Paul W. Stowell with first-degree felony kidnapping.

Stowell was arraigned in Franklin County Municipal Court Oct. 25. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 1.

He is being held at the Franklin County Correction Center.

Reynoldsburg police Lt. Ron Wright said the girl was waiting for her bus at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 24 at Rosehill and Bartlett roads when she was approached a man wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt and black pants.

She told police the man put his arm around her waist and his hand over her mouth and grabbed her, forcibly carrying her away with him.

"The girl screamed and managed to escape his grasp," Wright said. "She ran home to her stepmother, who then called police."

He said police were able to find a man matching the girl's description -- and later identified as Stowell -- at a group home about eight doors down from the bus stop on Bartlett Road.

The home is designed for people who have mild mental disabilities.

"It does not appear that Stowell has a criminal record through Reynoldsburg," Wright said.

He said Stowell confessed to the attack and told officers he was "going to try to find a secluded area" and said he was going to rape or molest the young girl.

Wright said police have had trouble with residents wandering from that particular group home; he said Stowell had been seen at the bus stop before the Oct. 24 attack.

"The officers found Stowell for a couple different reasons," Wright said. "First, the victim provided a very good description. ... Second, Stowell managed to make it home, but he was nervous and kept looking outside his front door.

"One of the officers who responded to the area observed him looking out the front door, noticed he matched the description of the suspect, and made contact," he said.

Wright said the officer called for backup. He added that when Stowell was arrested, he did not run or resist police.

Reynoldsburg principals sent letters out to parents about the incident by Monday, Oct. 28. A letter from eSTEM Academy Principal Scott Bennett said the attempted abduction was "an unfortunate reminder of the need for vigilance in protecting our children."

"The Reynoldsburg police responded quickly and effectively," Bennett wrote. "An arrest was made within an hour of the incident. ... While incidents like these are extremely rare in our community, it reminds us -- parents and educators, alike -- to speak to our children regularly about how to protect themselves by avoiding strangers and reporting anything out-of-the-ordinary to a trusted adult.

"District officials and the Reynoldsburg police work closely together to maintain safety at and around our schools, as safety is our highest priority," Bennett wrote.