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Winter Haven PD arrest man accused of trying to pick up teen walking home from school

Posted at 10:44 PM, Sep 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-29 08:28:09-04

7AM SUNDAY UPDATE | Stalking suspect Randall Ogletree is scheduled to make a first appearance before a judge in Polk County at 8 a.m. Sunday on the charges that put him behind bars.

Ogletree is being held at the Polk County Jail on one court of stalking, driving without an active driver's license and failure to appear.

ORIGINAL STORY | WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Police in Winter Haven arrested a man early Saturday who is accused of following a teenage girl while she was walking home and repeatedly offering her a ride.

Police said in a press release the 15-year-old was walking along Lake Elbert Drive NE, near 10th Street NE, around 2:20 p.m. on Thursday when she was approached by a black man in a white van. The man, who appeared to be between 50 and 60-years old, asked the girl multiple times if she wanted a ride, according to police.

Officers say as the teenager ignored the man, he continued to follow her while asking about a ride. As she continued walking, police say the man pulled the van in front of her, stopped and told her to get inside.

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Police say witnesses in the area who saw what was happening yelled at the girl not to get in and the man drove away. Those witnesses were able to help officers with a description of the van.

Police say that man was 55-year-old Randall Ogletree. He was spotted by an officer just before 4 a.m. on Saturday parking his van at a Ractrac. The van and license plate matched the description of the one provided by witnesses.

Ogletree told police he did offer a female a ride, but said he thought she was an adult because she appeared to be coming from Polk State College. He told detectives he always asks females he sees walking if they need a ride, according to a press release.

Officers discovered Ogletree had an expired license as well as a warrant for failing to appear on a charge of driving with an expired license.

Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird commended the teenager for saying no and the witnesses for intervening.

"The fact that you have people that are paying attention to our children, that are paying attention to what's happening around them," Chief Charlie Bird said. "We don't know what his intentions were. The good thing is that we don't have to find out what his intentions were because people did what they were supposed to."

Jeanette Viegas was one of the witnesses.

"At that moment in time, that was my child," said Jeanette Viegas. "I believe I was put here for a reason."

Jodi Foster says the man approached her moments before going after the teenager. She called 911 for help then went on Facebook Live to warn others.

As of Friday night, the post had been seen by nearly 30,000 people and shared hundreds of times.

"It got out there quick and the police department even has said it got out there quicker than anything they could ever get anything out there and that’s the amazing thing about social media," said Foster.

Bird also commended his officer who spotted the van, calling his work "fantastic police work."

"This officer was paying attention to that BOLO, paying attention to his surroundings and sees a van that matches it," Bird said. "To get this guy into custody that fast is outstanding. I couldn't be more proud of my people for that."