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UPDATED AFTER PRESS TIME TUESDAY: Following one attempted abduction in Bardstown earlier this month and two attempted abductions in Louisville last week, a report of a white van following a female in Southville in Shelby County early Tuesday morning put some Spencer Countians on high alert.
According to Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis, Shelby County received a complaint of a man in a white van following a white male chasing a female on foot in the Southville area early Tuesday morning.
“We checked the Spencer County area to the county line and then into Shelby County to Southville as Shelby County and KSP converged into the area,” Lewis posted on the department’s Facebook page.
No contact was made with the vehicle.
Contacted after the incident Tuesday morning, Lewis said he doesn’t know if the Shelby County complaint was related to the incidents in Bardstown or Louisville.
The only known similarity was the white van, Lewis said.
Tuesday morning’s incident reportedly involved a Chevy van, and the incidents in Bardstown involved a Ford van, he said.
“But somebody could make a mistake of the make of the vehicle,” Lewis said.
On Jan. 11 in Bardstown, a Cracker Barrel employee was walking from Chili’s when an old white van pulled alongside her around 1:30 p.m. A white male with a scruffy beard offered her a ride. The suspect persistently tried to get the woman in the vehicle.
The woman lied and told the suspect the man standing in Lowe’s parking lot was her husband and she didn’t need a ride. After the suspect saw the man, he sped away from the area.
A second "victim," Lechia Smaagard, who was going by the name of Lechia Ann Lewis, also reported an incident, but has since been charged with falsely reporting an incident after police found holes in her story.
The van that Lewis described to police belongs to a woman who happened to be in Cracker Barrel for a meeting and isn’t from the area, according to police.
Bardstown Police Capt. Tom Roby said that Lewis’ vehicle left 15 minutes prior to the white van leaving so Lewis’ story didn’t add up.
“We were able to punch holes in Lewis’ story,” he said. “She molded her story and was being deceptive with us.”
He added that once police received the full video, they couldn’t see any individual in the parking lot who tried to interfere with Lewis like she had stated to police.
However, police are still investigating one report in Bardstown and two in Louisville.
The white van and the suspect, who has “salt and pepper” hair and is between 50 to 60 years of age, is also suspected in an attempted abduction of a female Republic Bank employee in the bank’s parking lot on the Gene Snyder near Bardstown Road in Louisville Thursday morning.
Louisville Metro Police told The Kentucky Standard that a woman called police around 7 a.m. Friday morning while she was waiting at a bus stop on the 200 block of N. 18th Street in Louisville. A white van with three men inside reportedly drove next to the bus stop and tried to talk her into the van.
Again, there are no indications that Tuesday’s incident in Southville is related to any of the incidents reported since Jan. 11.
Related or not, Lewis said anyone who witnesses a similar situation should call 911 as soon as possible. The caller should try to get the license plate number of the vehicle and provide as much detail as possible, he said.
Lewis also said not to just be on the lookout for a white van.
“Don’t just think of it being that one vehicle,” Lewis said, suggesting the suspect could change vehicles. “Be cautious all the time.”
Anyone with information on the Bardstown incidents should call Bardstown Police at 502-348-6811 or Nelson County Dispatch at 502-348-3211.
Information on the Southville incident should be reported to Shelby County Dispatch at 502-633-2323 or Kentucky State Police at 502-477-5533 or 502-227-2221.
The Kentucky Standard contributed to this report.