Family of kidnapped Salem Sabatka releases new photos, says little girl will be ok

The parents of an 8-year-old girl who was kidnapped in Fort Worth, Texas, this weekend have released a statement and two recent photos of the girl who is recovering from a traumatic ordeal.

WFAA obtained a written statement from Salem’s parents, Riz Sabatka and Rachel Sweet, thanking the Good Samaritans who helped find their daughter and the ongoing support from the community.

“The biggest thank you goes to the people of Fort Worth and surrounding areas that made her return possible,” the statement reads in part. We feel we owe a debt that can never be repaid.”

Salem and her mother were taking a walk on Saturday evening in a residential neighborhood when a suspect drove up next to them and snatched the little girl into his car, as her mother tried to stop him. The community mobilized to help locate the kidnapped girl, and two residents spotted the suspect’s vehicle in a parking lot of a hotel in the Forest Hills area early Sunday morning. The two men reportedly alerted police, who responded to find Salem at the hotel with the suspect, 51-year-old Michael Webb.

One of those men, Jeff King, is reportedly a local pastor.

“It was an overjoying experience,” King reportedly said of Salem’s rescue.

The family also shared new photos of Salem with WFAA. In one, she appears to be in a hospital bed, with two police officers next to her. In another, she wears gold bunny ears and appears to be in a car.

“Things will never be the way they were, but they will get better,” the family wrote.

Read the full statement below:

We would like to begin by thanking the Fort Worth Police Department, the FBI, and the numerous other law enforcement agencies involved in bringing Salem back home. The biggest thank you goes to the people of Fort Worth and surrounding areas that made her return possible. We feel we owe a debt that can never be repaid. We do hope one day to personally thank as many of those involved as possible. We hope Fort Worth will get to know Salem over time and come to see the strong, articulate, intelligent 8-year-old girl they saved. 

Things will never be the way they were, but they will get better. Salem has been surrounded by family and friends ever since she returned. As time goes by, she will be making more and more friends in this amazing city. 

And to Jeff King, a man we haven’t seen in 15 years, your name will forever be etched in our hearts. 

Riz, Rachel and Salem