Lakeland woman accused of trying to kidnap children from park

A parents' nightmare played out at a park Monday afternoon when a homeless woman walked off with two kids.

Police charged Crystal Kinder, 32, with two counts of kidnapping after officers arrested her less than an hour later.

Around 3:30 p.m., three children were playing at the Parker Street Park in Lakeland.

A five-year-old noticed his two cousins, ages three and five, were gone.

"Unfortunately they weren't supervised for a few minutes, and that was just enough time for her to come up, see these kids, and she carried one and held the other by the hand, and she walked off," Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross said.

The young child ran to his adult cousin Keith Campbell, 25, and told him the others were missing.

Campbell frantically asked several witnesses if they had seen someone walk off with two kids.

Many of those witnesses pointed him in the right direction, and he found them with Kinder at the Best Motel at 601 East Memorial Blvd. about six blocks away.

Police say Kinder gave the children back to Campbell, and a short time later, police arrested Kinder.

Once in custody, police say, her motive was bizarre, and this was a first for Lakeland Police.

"She was saying that she took the two kids to teach them how to steal and live off the streets," Sgt. Gross said.

Police want this to be a lesson to all parents: never leave your kids unattended even if it's only for a few minutes.

"Sometimes that's all it takes for a total stranger to take your kids and take off," Sgt. Gross said.