Erica Pratt Wikipedia
Erica Pratt (born 1994/1995) is an American kidnapping victim. She was abducted on July 22, 2002 from a Philadelphia sidewalk, at 7-years-old. There was one witness present, a 6-year-old child named Rani Byrd. Rani tried to help Erica but was pushed to the ground before two men pulled off. When Erica's grandmother called for Erica and her sister, a crying Rani stated that Erica had been kidnapped, but her sister was around the corner. Erica's abductors bound her hands and feet and held her captive in a vacant house until she was able to free herself by gnawing at the tape on her wrists and then smashing a window, a day after the kidnapping. Both Pratt's bravery and the media's handling of the situation attracted considerable attention.
Philadelphia's police inspector William Colarulo commented on Pratt's escape from captivity, stating, "I have twenty-one years in the Police Department, and I have never seen this kind of heroic act of bravery committed by a seven-year-old." Her problem-solving and actions, including her cries for help, have been cited as lessons for others and as an inspiration for African American leadership. She was named Time's Person of the Week "as a reminder that not all abductions end in tears". In May 2003, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft presented her with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's National Courage Award "for her unyielding persistence and boldness."
In a year that had already seen several other high-profile kidnappings, including Danielle van Dam, Samantha Runnion and Elizabeth Smart, Pratt's story caused several media outlets to consider whether these crimes were actually becoming more commonplace, concluding that reporting was distorting perceptions of their frequency. This case, especially in comparison to those earlier in the year, led to suggestions that the media was selectively reporting about victims on the basis of racial or social class grounds, a claim sometimes generalised as missing white woman syndrome. Salon writer Margot Magowan also suggested the non-sexual nature of the Pratt kidnapping contributed to the media's attention. "If raped women were granted the same status as Erica Pratt," she wrote, "there would be no reflex to make them disappear."
Edward Johnson, who performed the physical kidnapping, and James Burns, the getaway driver, were arrested three days after the kidnapping, which they had committed in an effort to collect ransom money from Pratt's grandmother. Johnson pleaded guilty in May 2003 while Burns was convicted a month later.