Canton man jailed in kidnapping attempt

August 11, 2014
Jerry Linn Zgorliski

A Canton Township man is in Washington County jail on $1 million bond following his arrest Sunday night by state police after he allegedly attempted to lure and kidnap three children between the ages of 4 and 10 behind a home on Wilmington Avenue in Canton.

Jerry Linn Zgorliski, 55, of 260 Ellis Ave., is charged with three counts each of attempted kidnapping, luring a child into a motor vehicle, interference with custody of children and unlawful restraint.

Zgorliski is accused of driving his pickup truck into an alley where the 4-year-old boy and 8- and 10-year-old girls were playing in their yard about 8:50 p.m. He allegedly asked them to help him find his lost dog, offering candy if they were able to find the animal.

Police said Zgorliski got out of his truck and started to run after the children in an apparent attempt to abduct them. But the children ran into the house and told their parents he tried to grab them.

After failing to catch the children, Zgorliski returned to his truck and fled, police said.

Trooper Chad Weaver, who responded along with Cpl. Timothy Selden, said the children’s family had only recently moved into the neighborhood. But he said they recognized Zgorliski, who had approached them to ask if they had any scrap metal.

“The family said he had previously driven slowly around their home,” Weaver said. “They knew him as ‘Jerry’ and described his truck. They had a basic idea where he lived.”

Weaver and Selden talked to some people and were able to find the truck allegedly used in the incident parked at 260 Ellis.

“When we checked the truck, the hood was still warm,” Weaver said. “(Zgorliski) denied driving the truck, but the keys were in his pocket. He told me that was the only set of keys for the truck.”

Police unlocked the truck to verify it was the correct set of keys and then took Zgorliski into custody. They took him back to the home on Wilmington so the alleged victims could identify him.

“As soon as the 10-year-old girl saw him, she became hysterical,” Weaver said. “She was trying to hide behind her mom.”

Zgorliski denied approaching the children. He reportedly told police he lied about driving the truck because he did not want to get in trouble for driving without a license. He also claimed he had driven only to buy a pack of cigarettes but could not remember where he made the purchase, Weaver said.

Zgorliski, who also was charged with driving with a suspended license, was arraigned before District Judge Ethan Ward. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 27 before District Judge David Mark.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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