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Child killer is sentenced but other abductions unsolved


April 11, 1997
Web posted at: 10:08 p.m. EDT (0208 GMT)

(CNN) -- Lewis Lent, confessed killer of a 12-year-old girl in central New York, was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison.

He was impassive as Sara Anne Wood's anguished parents, once again, pleaded with him to tell them where their daughter's body is buried. They aren't alone in their sorrow.

Even with Lent behind bars, numerous cases involving the abduction and slaying of children remain unsolved.

More than 114,000 attempted abductions by nonfamily members occur each year in the United States, according to the Justice Department. Between 3,200 and 4,600 of the attempts are successful.


Workers at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Arlington, Virginia, say they handle about 25 new cases of missing children each day.

According to Bob Ermini of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 75 percent of the victims are girls, and in 85 percent of the cases, force or violence is involved.

"They try to trick them and grab them using a knife or a gun," Ermini said.

'God will have a place for you in hell'

-- Herkimer County Judge Patrick Kirk

Each abduction is a nightmare for the parents, but the Lent case is particularly painful, because of Lent's refusal to divulge the burial plot.

That prompted Herkimer County Judge Patrick Kirk to threaten during the sentencing: "Without your repentance, I am ensured that God will have a place for you in hell."

Bob Wood, Sara's father, told Lent, "You murdered her, and she begged you to live."

"You lied to this day. You refuse tell us where her body is; by those actions you tell us your father is Satan, that you are in league with the devil."

Bicycle found by the road

Sara disappeared on a quiet road near her Herkimer, New York, home in August 1993. Her bicycle was found by the road.

Sara Ann Wood

Lent, a janitor from Massachusetts, confessed to kidnapping Sara, sexually assaulting her, then killing her. He has recanted that confession twice, most recently a few days before his sentencing.

Kirk said he would have imposed the death penalty on Lent, if he had had that option. Lent will serve his sentence in Massachusetts, where he's already serving a life term for the 1990 slaying of a 12-year-old boy in Pittsfield.

In 1994, Lent told the Woods he had dumped their daughter's body in the Adirondacks. But a massive search turned up nothing. He refuses to tell where he buried Sara, because he also buried another body there and doesn't want it discovered, District Attorney Michael Daley said.

Neighbors search for Anthony

Police are still looking for the assailant who kidnapped 10-year-old Anthony Martinez April 4 in Beaumont, California. A man with blue eyes and a mustache approached the boy as he played with friends in a neighborhood alley.

The man said he was looking for his cat. Sensing trouble, the friends ran inside a house. But the stranger pulled out a knife and grabbed Anthony as his 6-year-old brother watched, forcing the boy into his truck.


Immediately, residents in the Southern California town of about 10,000 banded together. They posted fliers, and tied yellow ribbons on trees. A group of Morongo Indians paid for a large national ad to try to crack the case.

A law enforcement task force, including FBI agents, has put bloodhounds on the boy's trail and scoured the surrounding desert -- but to no avail.

Another search under way for Laura

The day before Anthony disappeared, 12-year-old Laura Kate Smither of Friendswood, Texas, disappeared while jogging near her home. At least 600 Marine reservists and 120 Texas State Guard troopers have joined the massive hunt for the girl.

Dogs tracked her from her home to a portable restroom near soccer fields, but they lost her scent.

Correspondents Mary Ann McGann and Jennifer Auther contributed to this report


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