MARION, Ind. – A Marion man followed a woman and her daughter in a grocery store before trying to kidnap the little girl, police say.
Marion police arrested Jason Milliner following the Jan. 30 incident, which happened around 1:30 p.m. at the Needler’s Fresh Market on Forest Avenue in Marion.
The mother told police she entered the store with her 4-year-old daughter and kept her close because she noticed a “weird guy” wearing a hoodie, a black ski mask or beanie, light colored jeans and work boots.
According to court documents, the woman said the man, later identified as Milliner, followed her and her daughter around the produce section. The mother said the man was eventually out of sight when she saw him again in the dairy section.
She held her daughter’s hand tightly because she was feeling uncomfortable. Once the man was out of sight, the woman let go of her daughter’s hand to reach for some sour cream.
Not long after that, the man grabbed her daughter by the coat and tried to pull her away. The child grabbed her mother’s leg and yelled “Mommy,” according to court documents. The mother dropped her basket and screamed; she was able to pick up her daughter and yell at the man.
Her screams got the attention of other customers, who looked in their direction; the man ran down the aisle and left, she told police.
The woman was so incensed by the encounter that she didn’t immediately contact the authorities and was more concerned about the safety of her daughter. She showed up at the police station about two hours later to report what happened.
The woman posted about the incident on Facebook; someone alerted her to a similar occurrence at a local Walmart, prompting her to contact Marion police. The Walmart incident was not related to the Jan. 30 attempted abduction at Needler’s and didn’t involve the same suspect, police said.
Investigators viewed surveillance video from the grocery store. It showed the suspect entering the store a few minutes after the woman and her child arrived. He hung around the produce section before leaving for the bathroom. He then went to the beer aisle, which is close to the produce area.
When the woman came to the produce section and left, the man followed her to the meat section, according to court documents. Police were unable to see the attempted abduction because “there were no working cameras” in the specific area where it happened.
Investigators said other cameras captured video of the man walking down the dairy aisle and “throwing his hands up,” although he wasn’t running. Additional video showed him taking off his beanie or ski mask and then walking quickly out of the store, according to court documents.
The man spent seven minutes in the grocery store but didn’t buy anything, police noted. He got into a red pickup truck with an extended cab; the front passenger rim was black, and the rear passenger rim was chrome.
A photograph of the suspect was distributed to other officers via email; one officer believed the image looked like Milliner. Police went to his address, where they found a red pickup truck matching the one they’d seen on video, including a black rim on the front passenger side and a chrome rim on the back one.
Milliner said he’d been at the store earlier in the day. Investigators noted he had a blue hoodie and a dark gray jacket with black stripes—clothing matching that of the man seen on video.
Officers took Milliner to the police department for questioning. On Jan. 31, the Grant County Prosecutor’s Office charged him with kidnapping, a Level 5 felony.