This past week the unthinkable happened when Kandy Swenning and Jared Armbrust got a phone call from a friend telling them that their 5-year-old daughter had just come home from school with a 19-year-old stranger. Kandy’s and Jared’s daughter, Amerah, was supposed to be at the MREC afterschool program until 6 o’clock but instead she walked away from school with the older girl
Swenning says, “About 4:30 I get a call from a friend of mine that was with my eldest at home and called me stating there was a 19-year-old with my 5-year-old daughter at our home.”
Swenning said she called the police and rushed home. According to Lincoln police the stranger who took Amerah, had the mental capacity of a 9 year old. Police are not recommending charges.
Lincoln Elementary School is where Amerah was taken, but the shocking part was nobody had any idea she was even gone.
After making sure her daughter was safe, Swenning called the school to see how her daughter walked away, without anyone knowing.
“Like any freaked out parent would I started screaming at him. Well of course you don’t because you don’t even know where my kids at because she is not there. I don’t know how long it was before they left and there was a minimum of six staff that were on the playground and they didn’t notice my child was talking to a stranger. They didn’t notice my child leaving. Plus I live 6 blocks roughly from the school and my 5-year-old is walking around town unsupervised,” says Swenning
KX News reached out to MREC’s Executive Director, Luke Schaefer, who said it was still an open investigation and could not talk about the incident, but he says they have updated their policies to ensure better safety for the children.
Schaefer says, “MREC extended school program really exist to help provide a secure environment for before and after school. It is our hope that parents come to us anytime when they have a concern and they share those concerns with us so that we can make improvements.”
Swenning says other mothers have reached out to her about similar situations with the after school program. But Schaefer said he could not comment on any other situations.
Swenning says,”I mean these are our kids if we just let it continue and let it be swept under the rug then things are never going to be taken care of. We have to be their voice.”
For Swenning, she says her family is lucky things didn’t turn out even worse. Amerah is home and safe. But she won’t be headed back to that after school program again.