“I saw without a doubt the man accused of child abduction at the Air and Space museum approach a little girl near the Ellipse at around lunch time”

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Bernard Derei via United States Park Police

A reader reports:

“Today [Wednesday] I saw without a doubt the man accused of child abduction at the Air and Space museum approach a little girl near the Ellipse at around lunch time. I was startled because he stopped his bicycle very quickly and then leaned over to the little girl who was sitting on the ground eating a hot dog by her self and leaned over and said something to her. She looked like she was struggling to understand what he was saying. I stopped and stared at him and after a few moments he started up on the bicycle again, only to ride a few seconds and then stop. It was very very odd behavior and it immediately reminded me of the attempted abduction at the Air and Space museum. I googled it on my phone, but with the sun glare and the small video, I was unable to ID the guy so I just kept walking on. I did take in his appearance, though: overly-taught face, ponytail, and wearing a backpack with the initials “BD.”

I did a more thorough search when I got back to a real computer and without a doubt, that was him, Bernard Derei. (Had I known his name earlier, I would have alerted the first officer I came into contact with, given the initials on the backpack) I left a message on their hotline.

I feel sick that this scumbag is still at these dirty antics and is preying on children enjoying the monuments and cherry blossoms and that I didn’t put two and two together until now. I last saw him crossing Constitution Avenue on 15th Street biking towards the Washington Monument.”

26 Comment

  • Chilling! I hope they catch this guy soon, though there’s likely nothing they can charge him with that would stick.

    • You mean, besides attempted kidnapping?

      • They could charge him with attempted kidnapping, but getting a conviction on that, based on him grabbing a child’s hand? Unlikely.

        • Grabbing a child’s hand and walking off would seem to fit the bill, but you never know.

          • +1. This is what I was getting at.

          • Yes, but proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he was actually attempting to abduct a child would be an uphill climb for a prosecutor, unless there was other corroborating evidence/incidents. That’s just based on what I’ve read; maybe law enforcement has more details that they’re not sharing. But just grabbing a kid’s hand and walking in another direction – it’s suspicious for sure, but he could easily claim it was an innocent mistake.

            I would love for this man to not be at large; I have young kids and it makes me nervous as heck. I’m just trying to be realistic about the chances of him going to prison for this incident.

          • Wasn’t there a report that, when confronted, he said something along the lines of “Sorry, I like children.” Which I suppose in itself isn’t weird but when added to trying to walk away with one that is clearly not yours….

  • Contact 911, not Popville or the first officer you happen to stumble upon.

    Get his patterns documented. How many times do they have to tell us to report suspicious behavior?

  • Park Police have a warrant out for this guy…hope they catch him before anything bad happens.

  • goaldigger

    I hope the museums, NPS and local hotels have some notices posted about this guy. We don’t want to frighten the tourons (they are annoying but they do put some coin in the local economy).

  • Egad

    Creepy. This dude is straight out of To Catch A Predator. I take my kid for walks around the National Mall and White House all the time and I will be holding onto him extra tight after reading this. Thank you for this information, OP!

  • Ugh, yikes! I have no doubt that OP was trying to do the right thing, but this is a good reminder to listen to that funny spidey sense we all get when something doesn’t seem right. Call 911 immediately, and leave it to the police to eyeball the guy and figure out whether they can make a stop.

  • Steve buscemi’s character from Con Air?

  • Ally

    The only possible good news here is that he hasn’t fled the country yet (there was some concern that he’d gone back to Israel already). So, in theory, they ought to able to get the guy.

  • What was he wearing? Was he wearing a suit? I saw a man who looked like him today on easy capital. Had a back pack on and a bike helmet. Yikes

    • Call it in. (The original post was from yesterday, so he’s probably changed clothes.) At least the police will know he’s still lurking, even if they can’t track him down based on your tip.

      People are speculating about what he could be charged with based on his behavior at the museum, but it may be the kind of situation where, if they catch him, they can get warrants to search his house, phone, computer, etc. and come across some other offenses.

    • He was wearing biking clothes… all black and had a ponytail. His face is very distinctive.

  • I try not to judge a book by its cover, but this guy is super creepy looking. I’d assume he’s a diddler even if the police weren’t out looking for him. I hope they catch him soon.

  • Please, please follow your instincts and report these kinds of things right away! It’s not necessary for you to make a positive ID. It’s strange enough for a grown man who is not otherwise affiliated with a child (who is clearly not riding he same of an accompanying bike) to talk to a child like that and then move on. What could he POSSIBLY have needed to say to someone else’s child. Most men I know don’t even bother to smile at children that they pass by, no matter how cute, for fear that someone will think something improper. Given what you’ve described, l I think it would have been totally appropriate for you to call the police while you were on the scene watching this, film the guy discretely from a distance, and give them instructions about where the guy was headed. The fact that this man’s picture is all over the media and he’s brazen enough to do what you saw is clear evidence of he danger he poses to every child whose caregiver is not present or is distracted.

    To be clear, not blaming the OP. And of course it’s easy to Monday morning QB when we’re not the one involved. But this story literally turns my stomach and I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a little child who isn’t lucky enough to escape an encounter with this visibly and mentally and emotionally odd and disturbing man. I’m more of the mindset that when it comes to vulnerable children and someone as sick as this man, I there’s no need or time to go back to a computer and double or triple check. Call the police immediately and have them come do the verifying for you. Better safe than sorry!

  • Where’s Dexter when you need him?

  • Well those look like contact lens to me….guy may have brown eyes…. looks like he’s tried to conceal his identity with surgery and hair color.

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