CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A woman will be criminally charged for falsely reporting that an Egyptian man tried to kidnap her daughter from a West Virginia shopping mall, a police detective told The Associated Press on Friday.
Barboursville Police Detective Greg Lucas said they are going to charge Santana Renee Adams with falsely reporting an emergency incident.
The charge would be the latest turn in a sensational tale of a mother who used a gun to thwart an abduction that quickly unraveled amid inconsistencies in her story.
Authorities on Thursday announced they were dropping charges against the man, Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, a 54-year-old engineer from Alexandria, Egypt, who was in the area for work. He cried as he greeted family members upon his release from jail.
Adams initially told police Zayan grabbed her 5-year-old daughter girl by the hair inside a clothing store and tried to pull her away but stopped when she produced a gun, authorities said. A criminal complaint went into further detail, describing a frightening scene where a Middle Eastern man dragged the girl by the hair as she dropped to the floor.
But the story started falling apart when no witnesses could be found and mall surveillance video didn’t match up with the woman’s original statement.
“There’s quite a bit that doesn’t line up,” Lucas told the AP.
She later told investigators she may have overreacted and misinterpreted the man’s intentions. Zayan doesn’t speak English and police say he may have simply been patting the girl on the head.
“Unfortunately, as false accusations are becoming more prevalent in today’s social media driven society, we are losing our grasp on ‘presumed innocent until proven guilty,’ and Mr. Zayan has been tried around the world by the court of public opinion,” Zayan’s public defender attorney, Michelle Protzman, said in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press.
Adams couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.