In an age when people make friends and enemies over the internet, sometimes it can be easy to forget about your neighbors. Luckily for Jocelyn Rojas and her loved ones, this was not the case in their neighborhood.
Five-year-old Jocelyn was playing with her bicycle in front of her grandmother’s apartment building around 4:00. Her mother, Jaimee, was keeping an eye on her from a nearby window, but her back was turned when a strange man in a maroon sedan drove up and offered Jocelyn ice cream.
When Jocelyn approached his car, he grabbed her by the neck and forced her into the vehicle.
“I took my eyes off her for five minutes, and she was gone,” said Jaimee.
Frantic, Jaimee called the police, who worked with firefighters to blockade neighborhood streets. Emergency professionals, police dogs, and volunteers teamed up to try to find Jocelyn for over two hours, but it was no use.
Enter two teens from the neighborhood: Temar Boggs (age 15) and Chris Garcia (age 13). Temar was moving a couch for an elderly neighbor when someone approached him with a photo of Jocelyn. He remembers seeing the photo and feeling a call to action.
“I felt that I was going to find her,” he remembered. Temar sought the help of his friend Chris and, with courage far beyond their years, the boys decided to take the search for Jocelyn into their own hands.
They had no plan, but they hopped on their bikes and started to investigate anyway. About half a mile from the scene of the crime, the boys spotted a maroon Chevy swerving down a side street, hitting a dead end, and making a U-turn. They thought it seemed suspicious, as if the driver weren’t familiar with the neighborhood, so they followed it. Then they saw the Chevy abruptly make another U-turn to avoid a group of police officers and firefighters; the boys were on to something.
They tailed the vehicle for 15 minutes, determined to chase it until they were able to catch the driver.
“Every time we’d go down the street, he’d turn back around, and then… we’ll follow him,” remembered Temar.
Finally, Temar pulled his bike up right next to the car and found himself face-to-face with the kidnapper. Jocelyn was right there, sitting in the passenger’s seat. He looked into the kidnapper’s eyes and said the three words that would bring Joceyln home:
“I see you.”
Inexplicably, Temar’s words had some kind of profound effect on the kidnapper. He heard those three small words and let Jocelyn go.
“He stopped at the end of the hill and let her out, and she ran to me and said that she needed her mom.”
Moments later, Joceyln was reunited with her family, who alternating between hugging Jocelyn and Temar.
“He’s our hero. There is just no words to say,” said Jocelyn’s grandmother.
Neil Harkins, chief of the Manheim Police Department, said that what the boys did that day was “something we don’t normally hear about. For young boys to do, it was a very brave thing.”
Temar and Chris may have become neighborhood heroes, but that’s beside the point.
“I didn’t do it for attention,” said Temar. “I just wanted to help.”
The kidnapper, a 63-year-old sex offender, was ultimately identified and brought into custody, thanks in part to the detailed facial description that both of the boys were able to give the police.