July 14, 2023
A Philadelphia man surrendered to authorities Thursday in connection with the attempted abduction of a 14-year-old girl at the Willow Grove Park Mall, Abington Township police said.
Khalilh Evans, 44, was was charged with false imprisonment of a minor and harassment. A second person thought to be involved in the incident has not been charged, but the investigation remains ongoing, police said.
The incident happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday after the teen had become separated from her friends. She told investigators that when she took an escalator down to the mall's first level, she was met by a man who identified himself as "Alex." The man allegedly grabbed her arm and told her to join him, leading her across the mall, police said.
The girl told the man that she was underage, police said. She eventually escaped from his grasp and screamed to get the attention of bystanders, who stepped in to block Evans from following her, police said.
Evans allegedly left the mall immediately and fled with another, older man in a dark gray minivan. On Thursday, authorities shared surveillance video of the two men at the mall, eventually leading to Evans' arrest with the assistance of U.S. Marshals.
At a press conference, Abington Police Chief Patrick Molloy said the department has received numerous tips from other girls alleging that Evans had approached them at the Willow Grove mall and possibly other malls in the region. Police reviewed surveillance video of Wednesday night's incident to identify Evans as the suspect.
"This is the type of crime where the hair on your back stands up," Molloy said. "It's very disturbing to see that video. Thank God this young lady had the presence of mind to scream, to pull back and to take off as citizens jumped in to stop these individuals. Only God knows what their intentions were. We can only assume the worst."
Evans has a lengthy criminal history in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties, including weapons, aggravated assault and theft offenses, authorities said. Molloy said a 2022 gun possession case in Philadelphia should have kept Evans behind bars. He is currently on probation in Philadelphia, police said.
"I think some of the failed policies in Philadelphia with the District Attorney's Office, where it's somewhat of a revolving door, where dangerous felons are let back onto the street to prey upon our citizens," Molloy said. "And this is a particularly disturbing case because these are innocent children. This shouldn’t have happened. He should've been detained. He should've been in jail. And I know there's a lot of things that go into those decisions on why people are back on the street. But this here is a disgrace. We need to do a better job. The system failed."
Abington police are following up on the allegations that other girls have made against Khalilh and additional charges could be filed, Molloy said.
The false imprisonment of a minor charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. Khalil surrendered to police through his attorney and was taken into custody Thursday afternoon in Media, Delaware County.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact the Abington Police Detective Division at (267) 536-1100 and select option No. 4.