Family: Mental health issues involved in Happy Valley attempted - KPTV - FOX 12

Family: Mental health issues involved in Happy Valley attempted abduction

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Jessica Wornum and her daughter, Aria Pankey. Courtesy of Wornum. Jessica Wornum and her daughter, Aria Pankey. Courtesy of Wornum.
Aria Pankey, courtesy of her family. Aria Pankey, courtesy of her family.
Abby Cameron, courtesy of her family. Abby Cameron, courtesy of her family.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The family of a young woman who was recently arrested for attempting to abduct a little girl from a Happy Valley church told Fox 12 their daughter struggles with paranoid schizophrenia, and they’ve been trying to get her the help she needs for the last seven years.

On June 24, Clackamas County deputies responded to the Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene on a report that someone tried to grab a little girl from a car.

“She’s scared,” said 5-year-old Aria Pankey’s mother, Jessica Wornum. “It’s a dose of reality, almost, that a little kid should never have to experience.”

Pankey was at the church for a gathering with a family friend, according to Wornum, and her 8-year-old brother was in the car with her.

The boy later told his mother it happened so quickly, he didn’t have time to get out of the car or try to help. Luckily, the family friend intervened, started yelling and grabbed Aria back.

“Everyone in this situation did everything right because my baby’s home,” Wornum said. “And that, that’s something that, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without her.”

Deputies said Abigail Cameron, 27, who goes by Abby, was arrested when she returned to the church last Friday and witnesses recognized her. Deputies said Cameron tried biting a patrol sergeant. She’s now in jail charged with attempted abduction and interfering with a police officer.

But Cameron’s family told Fox 12 there’s another side to this story: their daughter has been struggling with paranoid schizophrenia and they’ve been trying their best to get her the help she needs, and keep her safe.

“We know that she’s been having problems and we’ve been watching it escalate the last few years and she just keeps falling through the cracks,” Cameron’s mother, Debbie, said. “I understand where [Aria’s] mother is coming from, I would be scared, too.”

Debbie Cameron said she wants Aria’s mother to know they’ve been trying to get Abby the help she needs for some seven years, and they’re so sorry for what happened to Aria.

“I want to thank her for giving me that message, that means a lot to me, because mom to mom, these are our babies that are involved,” Wornum said. “I pray that she’s going to be able to get the help she needs, I really do. I can’t help but have compassion for her.”

Wornum said her two big concerns are that deputies didn’t notify the neighbors near the church about the attempted abduction and that mental health issues aren’t being sufficiently addressed in our society.

“The fact that she has mental health issues, I really hope that they take that into consideration in the court of law and that they really look at getting her the help she needs,” Wornum said. “Because if that was my daughter, that’s what I would want.”

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