Investigation Into 5-Year-Old's Abduction, Sex Assault

Police Commissioner Ramsey Had Dreams After Girl's Abduction

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey

By Sarah Glover
|  Monday, Apr 22, 2013  |  Updated 4:27 PM EDT
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Ramsey Had Dreams After Girl's Abduction

Sarah Glover

Police commissioner Charles Ramsay talks with journalists about fighting crime at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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The heinous abduction and rape of a five year-old Cobbs Creek girl rocked the city earlier this year.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey was among the shaken.

"It was terrible. It was enough to make your skin crawl," said Ramsey, who spoke candidly this week about the challenges of his job to the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

"I had nights when I actually dreamt about it and that happens sometimes, usually when it involves children," he said." Crimes against children -- I do have to admit they affect me. But, I don’t let them affect me too much."

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The Cobbs Creek abduction seemed particularly disturbing because the victim was taken right out of her elementary school by a woman dressed in Muslim garb, who signed the child out and walked out of the school with her. The victim was taken to a house five blocks away, investigators say, where she was sexually assaulted. She was found early the next morning in an Upper Darby park, shivering in a shirt. She had to work with a therapist for several weeks to be able to recall enough information to help lead investigators to the house, and to at least one person accused of the crime.

"It was more important for me to find the person responsible for harming that child than it was to have emotions about what happened to her," said Ramsey.

Daycare worker Christina Regusters was arrested for the crime on Feb. 14. Both police and the attorney for the victim's family have said they believe more than one person was involved. The case is now being investigated by a Grand Jury.

Working in a job where worst-case outcomes can be haunting, Ramsey said there is a need to control your emotions, which Ramsey said he's learned to do over the years.

"There’s time for tears and time for all that stuff later on. But, when business has got to be taken care of you take care of business. I don’t want to sound harsh, but that’s just real," said Ramsey.

The Cobbs Creek community was "heartsick" over the crime, and the common goal of trying to solve it  brought people closer together. Even with his ability to push raw emotions aside, this case has taken Ramsey's thoughts to the same place, possibly, as many other parents.

"(The abduction case) made me think about my own child. My son is 26 now and I could imagine him at that age and having somebody do something like that to him. I try not to think about that because it makes me angry and it takes away the focus."

The commissioner's 44-year career in law enforcement began at age 18 as a police cadet in Chicago. After 30 years in the Chicago Police Department, he left as deputy superintendent of police. He then became the police chief in Washington, D.C. For the past five years, Ramsey has been Philadelphia's head brass. 

"After all this time, I still enjoy law enforcement. A lot of challenges, crime primarily -- violent crime. We are making some inroads, but like everything else you have some setbacks," he said.

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