Aug. 23, 2023, By Michael Dorgan and Dean Moses – Updated at 5:58 p.m.
A 75-year-old Manhattan man has been charged with the sexual abuse and kidnapping of a 5-year-old girl who was reported missing from Jackson Heights on Tuesday, Aug. 23, and was later found after a frantic police search, while the child’s mother has also been charged.
The man, named by police sources as Franz Vila, was nabbed by cops at around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 22 on a platform inside the 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue subway station where he was with the young victim. The station is about five blocks away from her 79th Street home.
Vila took her from the Food Town Supermarket on 37th Avenue at around 9 a.m. and allegedly abused her in the intervening hours at his place of residence, according to police sources.
Cops at the 115th Precinct charged Vila Wednesday afternoon with kidnapping, injurious/abuse sexually motivated criminal sexual act of a child in the first degree, unlawful imprisonment, and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
He was led away in a police vehicle shortly after 5:30 p.m., where he murmured words in Spanish to the press.
The girl’s mother has been charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child after she allegedly let her daughter with Vila. Pijuan told police that she bumped into the man, who she says is a casual friend, inside the supermarket, according to a report by ABC7 News.
Pijuan told cops that her daughter wanted to go to a nearby park, so the mother left the child in the care of the man with the understanding that he would take her to the park, according to the ABC7 News report.
Vila was captured on CCTV footage inside the supermarket holding the girl’s hand before they left.
But when they didn’t return she raised the alarm at around 1 p.m., sparking a frantic police search which eventually led cops to find them at the subway station after a Good Samaritan spotted them.
It is unclear why they were at the subway station, and where he intended to take her.
This is a developing story.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:58 p.m. on Aug. 23.