Keeping Kids Safe from Predators

Image from surveillance video.
Image from surveillance video.

It's the worst possible ending to the search for 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. After five agonizing days of not knowing what happened to her, police now know. Her body was found last night in a church parking lot in Sarasota, Florida. Brucia's abduction on Sunday was captured by a surveillance camera at a car wash not far from the church.

Police are not yet saying how she died, but do say they found her body after negotiations with Joseph Smith, the man they believe is the one on the tape leading her away.

"We have found Carlie and the person responsible for her murder," said Capt. Jeff Bell of the Sarasota PD. "We now stand ready to complete our obligation and assure you that he will pay the ultimate price for what he did to her."

Smith has been in custody since Tuesday on other charges, but will now be charged with her murder. Smith faces the death penalty if he's convicted in Carlie's murder.

The thought that someone would actually take your child is terrifying to any parent. We all watched in disbelief as footage from the surveillance camera showed the girl being led away. Today, we spoke with a doctor who specializes in children's behavior for some advice on keeping kids safe.

Dr. Doris Greenberg, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, says a parent's roll is to tell children not to talk to strangers. She says what could be even more scary is that "there's a great deal of denial that this wouldn't happen to their child."

If you think it couldn't happen to your children, a few years ago WTOC conducted an experiment to see if children would get into a car with one of our employees, a stranger. And thee out of five did.

"Children can be conned by cunning adults, predators are very good at enticing a child," said Dr. Greenberg. So what do you tell your child to do? "If you are approached by a someone that doesn't seem right, run, scream, make a fuss."

Always supervise and make your children call to check in every time they change a location, and take preventative measures yourself. "I think it's important for parents to have records of what their kids look like," advised Dr. Greenberg.

And start teaching them to say no to strangers at an early age, just like Susan Nigg of Sylvania does with her daughter Samantha. "I always tell her, don't talk to anybody that comes up in the yard, if you don't know them, always, don't talk to strangers, don't talk to strangers," she said.

One method some abductors use is telling a child that their parents have been hurt. Dr. Greenberg says tell your children if someone says that, your child should call home or find an adult they know to go with them.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,