The residents of one five-block stretch of Edgewater have every reason to be freaked out this morning. Yesterday, two kidnapping attempts took place within five blocks of each other -- and only five hours apart. And while there's been an arrest in the first case, with multiple sex offender Dennis Willmore in custody for allegedly trying to grab a ten-year-old girl, the man behind the second attempt -- one that ended in Aurora, many miles away -- remains on the loose at this writing after being stabbed by his victim.
Let's take the incidents one at a time. At approximately 3 p.m. yesterday, according to the Wheat Ridge Police Department, a ten-year-old girl was walking her dog near an alley in the vicinity of 29th and Chase, an area captured in the following interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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Suddenly, cops say, a man grabbed the girl by the throat and face and began dragging her into the alley.
Fortunately, the girl was able to fight her way loose of the man with a little help from her dog, which is said to have bitten him. She suffered only minor injuries, and shortly thereafter, she was able to provide investigators with information that led them to Willmore, who has been accused and convicted of similar crimes in the past.
In February 1999, the Rocky Mountain News reported that Willmore, then a nineteen-year-old working as a mechanic, was arrested for trying to lure a four-year-old out of her bedroom window. He reportedly lived just two doors away from her.
The paper also noted that Willmore had a previous mark on his record for an offense against a child committed when he was a juvenile. In that case, he received two-and-a-half years behind bars.
In 2000, Willmore was convicted of assorted crimes related to the incident the previous year, with a judge handing him a twelve-year sentence following a passionate request for harsh punishment from the girl's father.
"People like him are a threat to children everywhere," the dad is quoted as having told the court. "Left unsupervised, he'll go on the prowl again. Do we have to find another dead child in a dumpster to realize that pedophiles are rarely cured?''
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation page on Willmore notes two nicknames for him: Big D and Thumper. His address: 2857 Chase, very near the alley in question. Once again, he apparently struck close to home.
Wheat Ridge cops took Willmore into custody without incident on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault -- meaning he's not a suspect in another kidnapping attempt that took place around 8 p.m. in the vicinity of 24th and Chase. Here's an interactive graphic showing that area.
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In this case, the victim was (update) a sixteen-year-old girl and the perpetrator is described as an African-American man. 9News reports that he transported her from the Edgewater area in a blue diesel truck, but she was able to get away near East 17th Place and Interstate 225 in Aurora, as seen in this interactive graphic:
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The teen did so by reportedly stabbing the man in the shoulder and/or chest -- an action that should presumably require him to seek medical attention at some point. In the meantime, he remains at large.
Look below to see a larger version of Willmore's booking photo, followed by a 7News report on the first incident.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa January 16: "Photos: The ABCs of Denver's unregistered sex offenders."