The kidnappers of a 7-year-old boy were demanding a $100,000 ransom for his safe return after they abducted the child Thursday morning from his school bus stop, The Buffalo News has learned.
Police said Marquan Richardson was released unharmed almost four hours later.
Meanwhile, police are trying to determine a motive behind the kidnapping. The Butler Avenue boy was pulled into a silver or gray sport utility vehicle by two unknown men as he waited for his school bus at Butler and Wohlers avenues about 8 a.m.
After the kidnapping, police said the boy's father, Marlon Richardson, 31, received a page on his pager at 8:40 a.m. and called the phone number back .
According to police reports, a man with a Jamaican accent asked: "How much is he worth?"
Police said the man then demanded $100,000, ordered the boy's father not to make any phone calls and said he would call back in two hours.
About 11:45 a.m., the second-grade pupil at Makowski Early Childhood Center was released by his captors, who let him out of a red Jeep Cherokee on Smith Street, near South Park Avenue. Family members said a worker near the railroad tracks discovered the boy and allowed him to use his cell phone to call his father.
Marquan was treated in the emergency room of Women and Children's Hospital, where a crowd of family and friends -- including his father and mother, Shaunte L. McMillion, 29 -- stood at his bedside. He was later released to his mother.
"I thank God he's safe," the boy's grandmother, Claudette Williams, said outside the hospital. "The man who found him was a guardian angel. He borrowed the man's cell phone and told his dad to come get him. God is good.
"Shaunte is still in shock, but my grandson is a fighter. He's a very smart boy."
Family friend Shawnika Dillard said the boy was smiling as he sat in his hospital bed and told staff he was hungry.
"They still can't believe it," said Dillard, moments after visiting Marquan. "Everyone is just happy and rejoicing. This is such a blessing that we got him back safe."
The ordeal began when Marquan, who police said lives with his mother in a Butler Avenue apartment, was standing at the school bus stop with a group of students and adults who witnessed the abduction.
Police said an Amber Alert was issued across the state and FBI agents were called in to assist.
Family members said the boy's hands and feet were bound during the ordeal, but police declined to confirm the report.
No motive has been determined for the abduction but detectives said they are investigating whether a dispute about drugs triggered the crime.
In June 2002, the boy's mother and father were among 13 people arrested on drug charges during a series of raids in the Moselle Street-Box Avenue area. At the time, Richardson was described as a Jamaican national who lived in New York City. Police decribed the drug suspects as a "loosely knit" organization that obtained drugs from New York City and sold them on Buffalo streets.
Detectives said they have interviewed the boy's parents and at least three witnesses.
"We're looking into all reasons why somebody would want to do something to a child," said Lt. Margaret Sack of the Major Crimes Unit. "We want to protect the family from any wrongdoing."
Capt. Mark Morgan, commander of the Major Crimes Unit, said they do not suspect the kidnapping was prompted by a custodial dispute.
"We're treating this as a stranger abduction," said Morgan. "There's no indication of any type of custodial interference."
Family members say they're just elated to have Marquan back at home -- safe and sound.
"I feel very relieved that our prayers have been answered," said the boy's uncle, Dwayne Ferguson, who's also the local president of Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder (MAD DADS). "He's OK and he's in great spirits."