Students question safety in South Side

Written By Virginia Garner

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Multiple reports taking place in various locations stated that the sounds of babies crying or young children pleading for help have been playing outside of peoples’ homes, including in Pittsburgh’s Southside neighborhood. It is speculated that the recordings are being used to lure people out of their homes into dangerous or life-threatening situations.

Recently, reports coming from Southside residents stated that they heard recordings of the sounds being played outside their own residences. Upon opening the front door, no infants or children were seen. When investigated, police were unable to find evidence of children ever being present or in distress in the vicinity.

Accounts of recordings used to lure naive victims into an area where they could be kidnapped or harmed are not new. One report from Baton Rouge, La. from 2003 came from a woman who claimed Derrick Todd Lee, known as the Baton Rouge serial killer, used the recordings as an attempt to kidnap and murder her. A connection to the serial killer was never officially established, but the woman who reported the incident was left unharmed.

In 2010, another woman from Farmville, N.C., described a similar scene; recordings of a baby crying were played outside her home to lure her into a potential kidnapping or murder. After calling local police, the woman said she saw a mysterious man walking away from her property. The police, once again, could not find any evidence of foul play or criminal activity in the vicinity.

Beginning in 2019, and occurring most recently within the first month of 2020, numerous reports of similar sounds playing outside residences began rising in Pittsburgh’s Southside neighborhood, a hub of popular restaurants, stores, local businesses and homes.

In addition to the nightlife, the Southside is an affordable option and an optimal location for young college students attending city universities to live. Mya Comstock, a freshman at Point Park University, frequents Southside to go shopping, see movies and eat at local restaurants. However, she now questions her safety visiting the neighborhood.

“I go to Southside by myself all the time, and have never felt in danger at all or ever felt threatened,” Comstock said. “But after seeing these horrific reports on the news, I feel like I need to take extra measures to keep myself and my friends safe. From now on, I’m definitely going to bring a friend with me or look for things to do in other neighborhoods.”

These recordings could be used to attract empathetic and naive victims looking to help a child. People are urged by police to call 911 immediately and not take matters into their own hands, and instead allow law enforcement to handle the situation to ensure the safety of all involved. Police are declining to comment on the issue at this time.

“It makes me so sad; Southside is such a cool area,” Comstock said. “I really hope nothing like this starts happening in the Downtown area. I would be devastated if anyone was ever harmed in this type of situation.”