POLICE: Second "white van" incident at Bardstown Cracker Barrel - WDRB 41 Louisville News

POLICE: Second "white van" incident at Bardstown Cracker Barrel didn't happen

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Reports of four attempted abductions or lurings of women from a stranger in a white van have dominated local newscasts and gone viral on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

But Bardstown Police say second of the four alleged incidents was made up - fabricated by the alleged victim.

Bardstown Police say they have arrested a woman, Lechia Smaagaard (also known as Lechia Ann Lewis) who claimed to be a victim in the second incident at a Bardstown Cracker Barrel involving the mysterious white van involved in recent attempted abductions and other encounters.

Smaagaard (although a mugshot lists her last name as Lewis) has been arrested and is expected to be charged soon with filing a false incident report.  She also faces warrants in other states on one felony theft charge. She was arrested Tuesday on outstanding warrants from Hardin and Taylor counties, WDRB's Bennett Haeberle confirmed with jail officials.

An interview request placed with Nelson County Jailer Dorcas Figg could not be completed Tuesday. But WDRB News caught up with Lewis' husband, Bruce Lewis.

He told WDRB's Bennett Haeberle his wife had marks on her arms after the alleged encounter. He believes she was grabbed and is not making up the incident.

Bruce Lewis declined to be interviewed, but did answer a few questions. When asked if he were upset by news of her arrest, Bruce Lewis said: "Well yeah. We've been dealing with this stuff all week. Between her and corporate Cracker Barrel and police I don't know. They'll have to work it out because I haven't talk to anyone else but her so."

He went on to say that his wife isn't making up the story.

But Captain Tom Roby with Bardstown Police told reporters otherswise, saying after a review of surveillance video from the Bardstown Cracker Barrel, the woman's story didn't add up.

"Once we got the full video we were able to determine that Ms. Lewis' van left 15 minutes before this van leaving. Again, it kinda punched some holes in her story," Roby told reporters.

Police say they still believe the first incident on Friday, January 11 at the Cracker Barrel in Bardstown actually happened, and they are still looking for the white van and the white man with the scruffy beard who has been described in those recent encounters. 

The second incident in Bardstown was on Saturday, January 12 and neither of the female victims reported it at the time. It was not reported until Sunday by Cracker Barrel management, authorities say.  olice say they took it seriously, and immediately began to investigate.

But as the investigation continued, police say they came to believe the second incident did not happen. They say after interviewing the victim several times, it became clear, in their estimation, that the story did not add up.  Police say the victim is adamant that the incident happened.

Capt. Tom Roby of the Bardstown Police Dept. says surveillance video showed a white van that remained in the Cracker Barrel parking lot for about four hours.  But that van was determined to belong to a woman who was attending a Kentucky Goat Producers' winter meeting.  That woman and her van were cleared of any wrongdoing, and the video, police say, did not show any attempt to abduct anyone.

Capt. Roby also said Lewis's story didn't match up with details from the video, and that after she was shown the video, her story changed to line up with more closely with the video.  Police also say Lewis provided the partial license plate number they've been seeking, and so they are dropping that part of the description.

Police said earlier they were receiving tips from people across Kentuckiana about white vans in the area.  The first incident in Bardstown, along with the two reported in Louisville, are still open investigations.  Bardstown Police emphasize they are following up on every report of a suspicious white van, and have even stopped the same person two and three times as part of the investigation.

There were two other incidents in the Louisville area.  Police say Thursday morning a female employee at the Republic Bank on Bardstown Road and the Gene Snyder was approached by a man in a white van.

She was going inside when she was stopped by a white man who appeared to be in his 50's. 

Louisville Police couldn't give us details of what the man said to the bank employee. Bank employees tell us they have been told not to comment about the situation.  Employees at some nearby businesses say they are on high-alert and want to make sure female employees aren't walking alone.

One suspect is described as a white man in his 50s or 60s with a scruffy salt-and-pepper beard, long white hair, and a black baseball cap.

Authorities say these locations are close to parkways and freeways, making for a potentially quick getaway.

Previous stories:
Police receive more tips on recent attempted abductions
Louisville incident could be connected to attempted abductions in Bardstown
LMPD officers respond after another possible abduction attempt
Attempted abductions have small town on edge

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