More than $105,000 in reward money is sitting, waiting to be handed out to the person who helps bring those who allegedly abducted and raped a 5-year-old Cobbs Creek, Pa., girl to justice.
After enduring what investigators called an “unspeakable experience,” the girl assisted police in their investigation. She met with experts who worked to recover her memories, was questioned by detectives and even took three walks through the neighborhood where she was allegedly held.
A day after the last neighborhood visit, police executed a search warrant at a home along the 6200 block of Walton Avenue. The next day, they questioned four people living in that home -- eventually charging 19-year-old Christina Regusters with the crime a week later.
“She's been a big help to us. She's gone through a lot of trauma, but she was still able to provide some information that proved to be very helpful to us," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said. He also called the girl “incredible.”
As Regusters sits behind bars, police say their investigation is still ongoing. Several representatives involved with raising the reward money say they’d think about giving at least some of the cash to the girl.
“I think it would be worth considering,” said Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 President John McNesby. “She really did go through hell.”
Police Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross sits on the panel that helps decide where rewards are directed. He says he hadn’t thought about rewarding the victim -– adding the move is not typical.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Pa. 8th, brought $30,000 to the pot and encouraged community leaders to donate. Williams says he and other donors have been wrestling with where the money should go.
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“The most obvious participant in this is the child, who has been quite extraordinary in terms of what she’s been able to maintain, information she’s been able to share, but most importantly how she’s been able to keep her dignity intact,” he said.
“So obviously there are those of us who are participating in the reward process who feel that a significant portion of the reward, if not something else … should be supporting that family and that child going forward.”
Williams grew up near the community and lives less than a mile from William C. Bryant Elementary -– the school where the girl was taken. He credits the girl and her participation with helping take “a predator, if not a pedophile” out of the neighborhood and increasing “the safety and well-being of frankly everyone who was concerned about what was going on.”
The state senator says the girl has a long recovery ahead of her and should be given support for counseling and possibly putting her in a different academic climate.
“If I have any message, that I would like to most affirm … going forward, those of us involved will be talking about how we can support above and beyond just a simple reward,” he said.
All three men say it’s important to wait until the police investigation is finished before deciding how to disburse the reward.