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23-year-old Elsmere man arrested in Plum Run kidnapping, assault

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media

New Castle County Police identified their suspect in the April 6th abduction and sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl.


Police Chief Colonel Vaughn Bond says 23-year-old Elsmere resident Daniel Santucci Jr. has been arrested.


Santucci was identified by the Elsmere Police Department as a “person of interest” in the case on April 11th- according to New Castle County Police Chief Colonel Vaughn Bond.


Bond says Santucci’s physical description – and black sedan – matched the description of witnesses.

Credit New Castle County Police
Daniel Santucci Jr. is being held on charges connected to the April abduction and sexual assault of a 4-year-old gir.

Santucci’s black Honda Civic was found abandoned in the middle of Centerville Road with the driver’s door open. Police and other law enforcement believe he “staged his own disappearance.”  He was later located and arrested in Tampa, Florida where he had traveled via a Greyhound bus. By traveling to Florida, he violated his probation for a burglary he'd been charged with.


“Santucci did not care about the victim or her parents or what an incident like this would do to them," Bond said. "He did not care about the fear he instilled in every parent and child throughout New Castle County.”


New Castle County Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick’s daughter lives in Plum Run. Kilpatrick says the fear was very real.


“The fact that it was random I think bothered people, Kilpatrick said. "The fact that you show up in the daylight and you take a child off the street that’s playing with five other kids? That’s almost unheard of.”


Both Bond and Kilpatrick hope some of that fear will dissipate now that an arrest has been made.


Santucci is being held at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution after being unable to post bail - set at over a million dollars, cash only - on charges of first-degree attempted murder, kidnapping, unlawful sexual contact with a minor and possession of child pornography.

Bond says this case was the No. 1 priority for County police - with all detectives in the criminal investigations unit dedicated to it.

He adds other law enforcement agencies – including the FBI, U.S. Marshals, multiple local police agencies - helped make the arrest possible.


County police offered few details about the investigation.


It’s unclear whether or not the county’s new DNA processing initiatives will be utilized in this case.


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