ABOVE PHOTO: Christina Regusters
A suspect was arrested in the kidnapping of a 5-year-old West Philadelphia girl this week. Yet, those seeking justice for her know that fight is just beginning.
By Denise Clay
Valentine’s Day took on a special meaning for those who had been hoping, praying and marching for justice in the case of a 5-year-old West Philadelphia girl.
That’s because a suspect in her kidnapping from her West Philadelphia elementary school had been arrested.
Christina Regusters, 19, of the 6200 block of Walton Avenue, was arrested and charged with a variety of offenses including kidnapping, rape of a child, conspiracy and aggravated assault in the kidnapping.
Sources say that due to an assault at the prison where she was being held on $4 million bail after her arraignment, she has been moved to the Northampton County Prison to await trial.
While Regusters was the only one of several people taken into custody on Friday to face charges, police suspect that she wasn’t alone in her actions.
“This is the only arrest at this time. The investigation is very much active and ongoing by members of the Special Victims Unit,” Philadelphia Police Captain John Darby said at a news conference.
Police allege that Regusters, dressed in Muslim garb, went into the Bryant Elementary School in January and took the child from her classroom. From there, the girl was taken to a home in Cobbs Creek and assaulted before being found in an Upper Darby park.
Community efforts to keep the case in the headlines included vigils, marches, ministers of all religions taking to their pulpits, constant discussion on a variety of media platforms, and the announcement of a reward for information in the case put together by a coalition of African American community leaders.
This group of men, which included State Rep. Ron Waters, community activist Bilal Quayyum, Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire and Radio One’s E. Steven Collins, put their own money together to create a reward fund designed to entice people to provide information. State Sen. Anthony Williams matched their initial $30,000 contributions with $30,000 of his own, Collins said.
By the time of Regusters’s arrest, the fund had reached $100,000.
“When people found out how this baby had been abused in this horrific attack, they became determined to help the police get who did this,” Collins said. “We saw this as an opportunity for Black men to stand up for our kids. This was a wrong that is beyond wrong.”
There is no trial date set for Regusters.