Mom Of Alleged Attempted Kidnappers Speaks After Release
May 22, 2019, 9:55 AM | Updated: 2:13 pm
SPANISH FORK, Utah – It’s days since an alleged attempted kidnapping at North Park in Spanish Fork, but the incident is far from over for Andy Bird.
“Just as we thought we were going to get to relax, we found out they were going to be released,” he said.
Philip Jensen, 35, and John Jensen, 37, were arrested Sunday night, and responding officers said they knew exactly who the two were.
“Officers are very well aware of both and have dealt with them on numerous, numerous occasions,” said Lt. Brandon Anderson.
Bird took his concerns to the Spanish Fork City Council on Tuesday night and, thanks to his post about it on Facebook, he wasn’t the only one there to speak up about the suspects’ release.
“You know it really hits close to home,” one man said.
“Maybe nobody’s been hurt yet, but we need this taken care of before someone gets hurt,” another woman added.
Bird said he his son Maddox, 6, were playing at North Park on Sunday. Maddox was just out of sight of his dad when Maddox’s mom, who was watching from the car, said she saw a man approach her son and then reach his arm out to him.
She called police and her husband, Bird.
“I ran up and I said: ‘What the heck? Yyou just tried to take my kid?'” Bird said. “I’m like, ‘Don’t even think about going anywhere. The cops are coming,” said Bird. “And I’m nose to nose with this guy and I’m furious.”
At that point, Bird said a second man got out of the van parked nearby and allegedly started to attack him.
“He shoves me back, and as I go back then he reaches up and grabs me by the throat,” said Bird.
That’s not the story the suspects’ mom, Terri Williams, said her sons told her.
“I don’t know exactly how the interaction went, but Phillip said that Andy grabbed him by the neck and wouldn’t let go and Phillip is trying to get him off of him,” Williams said.
Williams said John has been dealing with bipolar disorder since he was 15 and takes medication. She said Phillip also struggles with mental challenges but has not been diagnosed and refuses any treatment.
She was not there but believes the incident started out as a miscommunication.
“From what I’m understanding about the situation,” John went over to the boy and said, “Hi, give me a high five,’” Williams said.
Williams said she has seen her son do that with kids on several occasions.
“We’ve told him over and over again: don’t get involved with children,” she said. “He’s just so happy and he goes up to kids and said, ‘Hi,’ and gives them a high five.”
Bird managed to keep the men at the park until police arrived.
Lt. Anderson said that in just the past month or so, the brothers have approached kids on two other occasions.
Both men were released on Monday after police said the judge didn’t find sufficient evidence of attempted kidnapping in the probable cause statement.
Still, Bird said he’s not going to let this go away.
“Hopefully get them off the streets or do something to get them help with their mental health or whatever it is so that kids are safe,” he said.
Williams said she understands the concerns of residents but worries people don’t know how to respond to mental illness and are rushing to judgment.
The two men are currently homeless and living out of a van. Williams said her landlord doesn’t want them to stay at her home.
“I think they should be in treatment,” she said. “John’s in treatment. He’s being taken care of.”
As for the Bird family, Williams said, “I feel for them and I’m sorry they had to experience that.”
Spanish Fork police said they expect the county prosecutors will decide in the next couple of days whether they will pursue attempted kidnapping and/or assault charges against the Jensen brothers. If they decide not to, police said the city attorney may pursue an assault charge.
Philip Jensen was arrested again on Tuesday on suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct after he allegedly trespassed at a Spanish Fork church and threatened a group of men who were playing basketball there.