Fashion scare: Cops credit tipsters in Palmyra man's arrest

The multi-day saga of a mystery man accused of attempting to snatch a two-year-old away from her parents at a local shopping mall reached a major milestone Thursday, as community tips apparently led investigators to arrest a 46-year-old Palmyra man.

Albemarle Police reported that on November 29 they arrested James Kevin Key and charged him with one count of abduction, a felony offense.

The incident, which occurred on Saturday the 24th of November, sparked widespread outrage after the public learned that the rented security detail at Charlottesville Fashion Square allowed the man to leave the premises despite taking the child and then, as Thursday's release revealed, "walking away from her parents."

Parents and security experts expressed shock and puzzlement as the mall, owned by a large firm called Simon Properties, declined to offer an explanation. The situation heated up when Simon began deleting comments posted to its Facebook and even taking its own Facebook page offline for about a day.

Talk of boycotts and other community outrage seemed to eventually change Simon's tack. At 9:02pm on Tuesday the 27th, under a posting about holiday gift cards, a pointed question about deleting comments was posed by a Hook reporter. Two days later, the question was still unanswered, but it was not deleted.

Ditto for the hour-later comment from FB user John Hetzel who wrote, "You're talking about gift cards, we're talking about covering up heinous felonies on your property."

Eventually, the security firm– Pennsylvania-based security AlliedBarton– tried to tamp down the furor by releasing its own statement claiming that the family of the girl was "satisfied with our response and the action taken."

Since AlliedBarton failed to make note of the identity of the alleged attacker, the police and the public stepped in.

"With situations like this, we rely on our partnership with the public to provide us with leads and information," says the Albemarle Police Department in its post-arrest release.

On Tuesday the 27th the police released pixellated images from a jewelry store's surveillance cameras to give the public an idea of the suspect's appearance and asked for community tips.

"In this case, that information led us to Key and ultimately, to his arrest," says the release. "We appreciate all the tips and believe this shows how important the community is in helping us solve crimes."

Key is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. His bond hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1:30pm in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.


Crime solved by the public with the help of the media. Instead of deleting public comment and refusing to answer reporters questions I would like to hear what the company responsible for security plans to do differently.

"On Tuesday the 27th the police release pixellated images from a jewelry store's surveillance cameras to give the public an idea of the suspect's appearance and asked for community tips."

Amazing What a BIG story a little blip of video will tell .

What say you JPJA ?

Morgan Harrington's Parents Respond to Unusual Letter@newsplex

Maybe they could invest in a security system with a few hd video cameras.

why bother paying a security firm at all? why not just deputize all shoppers who walk into the mall?

Who wants to bet those security guards knew this guy?

I know the M.O. is very different between abducting a 2 year old and abducting a college woman, but to me, this alleged offender's picture is not dis-similar to the composite sketch released in the Morgan Harrington case. As a UVA employee, he certainly had opportunity and familiarity with UVA grounds.

Everybody's assuming Key is guilty and security was inadequate. Well, maybe security didn't call 911 because there was no reason to call 911...Why didn't SOMEONE ELSE call 911? Seems like to me during an "attempted child abduction" several people would have called 911--I'm sure many shoppers carry a cellphone--even in Charlottesville--just saying because where I live if this were to occur there would be people calling the police, even videoing the shit...and tweeting too. The parents had a responsibility that wasn't addressed until several hours later....hmmm

I know this man personally. He has epilepsy and blacks out during his seziures. He has a two year old daughter n two year old grandchild. Its very possibly that he had one of his seziures and blacked out. His seziures are very bad and sometimes you can't even tell he is having one. He has been a ref for the county rec for years. He refs basketball games every season for the youth. He is a strong and respected community member and we will continue to push his innocence and support him.

llb2357 you should encourage your friend to get help.

Had he chosen my child he would have blacked out from a softball size portion of his skull being liquified by a .357

@CCW always: Your attitude seems to be shoot first and ask questions later. Good luck, but remember you are not the only one with a gun....

I know Kevin and this is not at all of his character. I know he would not harm anyone. He is a well respected man amongst parents and children. And please stop making accusations-many of you are convicting him and he has not even had his trial yet.
I am here for you Kevin if you need anything at all!!