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WOONSOCKET â€“ Local police, the FBI and the state police swung into action Tuesday afternoon after a reported child abduction, but it didnâ€™t take them long to figure out it was all a hoax.
â€śWeâ€™re happy to report there was not an abduction at all,â€ť Detective Sgt. Matt Ryan announced at a press conference about two hours later. â€śThe story was fabricated by our witness.â€ť
The investigation began about 12:30 p.m. after a juvenile reported seeing four men kidnap a young girl on Vose Street. Police wouldnâ€™t say whether the witness was a boy or a girl.
The witness described the victim as a 5-year-old with blond hair and pigtails, wearing a pink dress with polka dots. The witness reported seeing four men wearing masks and black clothing force the girl into a dark SUV.
Woonsocket Police Chief Tom Carey said he was relieved by the happy outcome and proud of the way members of his department responded.
â€śWe have to take any of these reports very seriously and just investigate them very thoroughly,â€ť he said. â€śWe solicited the assistance of law enforcement, the media and the community. For us itâ€™s a big relief itâ€™s concluded this way, nobodyâ€™s in danger, nobodyâ€™s kidnapped.â€ť
The police said they had no idea why the witness made up the story or whether the person understood he or she had done something wrong. Ryan said he couldnâ€™t comment on whether a medical condition might have been a factor in the witnessâ€™s behavior.
Ryan said the police are continuing to investigate the situation and, when theyâ€™re done, theyâ€™ll collect all the information and ask the attorney generalâ€™s office to review it and make a determination on whether the witness should be charged with a crime.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo