Woman arrested in abduction hoax that reached Shelby

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Landmark News Service

A woman has been charged with creating a hoax that apparently roused law enforcement officials in Shelby County earlier Tuesday.

The Kentucky Standard posted on its Facebook page Tuesday afternoon that WHAS-TV in Louisville had reported that a woman was arrested for falsely reporting an abduction attempt in the Cracker Barrel parking lot in Bardstown.

Police took a closer look at the video and determined that the van did not match reports from other victims, according to WHAS.

Leicha Lewis was wanted in South Carolina and Kentucky on unrelated charges, the station reported. She was arrested Tuesday after police determined her story of the attempted abduction had inconsistencies with other reports.

Police say Lewis, who worked at Cracker Barrel, was the person to report the van's partial license-plate number. According to police, Lewis made up the story after a different employee reported an attempted abduction a day earlier. There were reports of similar attempted abductions in Louisville by at least one person in a white van.

That van or one like it allegedly was spotted early Tuesday to be following a female in Southville in Shelby County early Tuesday morning.

According to Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis, Shelby County received a complaint of a man in 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 his 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 into the vehicle.

The woman lied and told the suspect the man standing in Lowe’s parking lot was her husband and that she didn’t need a ride. After the suspect saw the man, he sped away from the area.

On Jan. 12, also in Bardstown, another Cracker Barrel employee was walking to her vehicle in the restaurant’s parking lot shortly after 3 p.m. A white van was parked next to her vehicle. As she walked to her vehicle, the suspect grabbed her by the arms from behind and told her she “was going with him.” She screamed out, and an unidentified man in the parking lot told the suspect to “let her go.”

The suspect then fled the area in the white van.

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 on 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.

Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin said he spoke with LMPD early Friday. However, he said LMPD had not called to notify them about the most recent attempted abduction.

McCubbin said he currently has “no indication” the reportedly fourth attempted abduction in the past week is related to the incidents at Cracker Barrel Jan. 11 and 12.


The Spencer Magnetand The Kentucky Standard contributed to this report.