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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Abducted Philadelphia Girl Escapes Captors

Aired July 24, 2002 - 09:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: "Up Front" this morning, a young girl is grabbed from right outside her home; but unlike some other recent abductions, this one has a happy ending. Less than 24 hours later, Erica Pratt is safe at home after escaping her captors.

Jason Carroll is standing by outside the girl's house in Philadelphia and joins us with a remarkable story. I mean I think it is amazing this kid found her way out of that situation.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is truly, truly incredible, Paula. And I have to tell you, just about everyone here in Erica Pratt's neighborhood is talking about just how remarkable this little girl is and how incredible it is what she was able to accomplish, able to escape from her captors.

Erica is 7 years old, was abducted on Monday night by two men who drove by when she was walking home and then grabbed her right off the street. Her family was overjoyed when they got word late last night that Erica had been found alive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I appreciate the work that they have done. They did a very good job. And I would like to say thank you a lot, and I love you all for that, and God will bless everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: For 24 hours, Erica was held in the basement of an abandoned house. She was bound with duct tape, but she somehow managed to chew her way through it. She broke through a window, screamed for help, some children in the area heard her screams and alerted police.

This morning, the police inspector said that their investigation at this point is still focused on two suspects.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INSPECTOR WILLIAM COLARULO, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: Right now we're still in the initial stages of putting our puzzle together -- the pieces of the puzzle together. Our No. 1 priority was, obviously, to find Erica Pratt safely. We've done that. And now our next priority is to grab these two guys and anyone else that may be involved. That are one -- that is one of the areas that we're looking at. Supposedly there was a rumor that the family came into some kind of money. I don't know that to be true right now, but the bottom line is the motive was for cash.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: And at this point police are searching for two suspects. Their names, Edward Johnson. The second man police are searching for, James Burns. You can see their pictures right there.

At one point the family had received a call for $150,000 ransom. Once again, you heard the inspector there basically saying that the motive for this kidnapping definitely money.

Once again, bottom line, Erica Pratt back here at home, right back here in her neighborhood, back in safe hands -- Paula.

ZAHN: A very lucky and brave little girl.

Thanks so much, Jason.

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