OTTAWA - A six-year-old's autism disorder may have been what saved her from a predator who family say tried to abduct the little girl.
Like some autistic children, Katrina doesn't like being picked up. After luring the girl away from a play area, that's what the man tried to do.
When he did, she started screaming, said her mother, Brenda Zion, 43.
The cries were heard by Zion's friend as the pair scoured the area Saturday night in Lowertown trying to find the missing girl.
"She just screamed automatically and that is what drew the attention of my friend to go that way. He yelled, 'Hey!' and the man dropped Katrina. He booked it," Zion said Wednesday.
The friend tried to give chase, but he was slowed down by Katrina.
The man got away, but police were given his description.
"Bad man grabbed hand," Katrina said after she was back with her mom. Zion said the man grabbed her daughter so hard he left a bruised handprint on her rib cage.
The man first took Katrina from a play area about 80 metres from Zion's home around 8 p.m. Saturday.
Back over at Zion's, a large group of adults and children were having a barbeque.
There were a couple of other children with the girl playing with Katrina's dog, Marbles.
The other kids got distracted when Marbles ran off and the man came up and took Katrina by the hand. He walked away with her toward the 300 block of Murray St.
Zion said she has trained her daughter to walk with people when they hold her by the hand.
Her children normally go to bed at 7 p.m., but Zion said she let them stay up for an extra hour.
"When you call my daughter she comes. When there was no response that's when I knew something was wrong," said Zion.
That's when she and her friend started their frantic search.
"He was walking away. Going somewhere with her," said Zion.
The man made it about a half kilometre.
The same man had come up to the girls minutes prior and petted Marbles.
Two days earlier, a man fitting the same description approached four young girls and asked them to dance for him. A neighbour chased him away, said Zion.
The suspect is white, in his late 30s, about 5-foot-10 with a shaved head and a muscular, stocky build. He was wearing a dark green sweater and light grey or blue jeans. He also had a dark goatee.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 613-236-1222, ext. 5944 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477.