Police: Sex offender approached 2 boys, tried to kidnap 8-year-old

Published On: Jun 17 2014 04:55:45 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 17 2014 05:00:37 PM EDT

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Willis Miller


A 30-year-old registered sex offender approached two boys and tried to kidnap one at the Gateway Mall nearly two weeks ago, according to Jacksonville police, and now investigators are trying to find two Good Samaritans who helped the boys.

Police said Willis Miller approached the boys, ages 8 and 13, about 6 p.m. June 4 as they were walking to the restroom in the mall in the 5100 block of Norwood Avenue on the Northside.

Police said Miller put his hand on the shoulder of the 8-year-old and said, "I want to show you some love."

A description of the suspect was given to police, who found and arrested him at the intersection of North Davis Street and West Castlewood Drive.

Miller spontaneously said to police he was not a child molester, according to investigators. The officer asked how he knew the incident involved kids, and Miller began crying and did not answer, police said.

The mother of the two boys said two women approached her in the mall and asked if the kids were hers. When she acknowledged they were, the younger of the two women said the suspect had his hands on the 8-year-old and was trying to take him from the mall, police said.

The mother did not know the women and did not obtain names or phone numbers for them. They left the mall prior to officers arriving, police said.

The boys told police as they were walking from the restroom the women asked them if they knew who the stranger was. When they replied they did not, the women told the boys to go home, police said.

The stranger at that time let the 8-year-old boy go, police said, and the boys immediately fled to their mother.

Investigators said they're trying to locate the the two Good Samaritans described to police as black women who were at the mall between 5:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 4.

Anyone who has any information regarding their identities is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500.


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