Roy girl describes fighting back against would-be kidnapper

Sep 1, 2021, 9:02 AM | Updated: 12:38 pm
roy girl...
Journey Brown speaks with KSLTV (Jay Hancock, KSL-TV)
(Jay Hancock, KSL-TV)

ROY, Utah — It started with a bike ride for a bag of Jolley Ranchers and a soda at the gas station for a Roy girl last Friday. It ended with her fighting against a would-be kidnapper and convicted sex offender.

Journey Brown had gone to get a treat from the Texaco gas station on 4400 South in Roy to grab a treat on Friday, and while there noticed the man watching her.

She was uncomfortable, so she made sure to stay behind him. After checking out, and going back to get her bike, she noticed the man was on the sidewalk in front of her.

“He stopped, so I thought he wanted me to go by him, so when I tried to go around him he turned around and grabbed my neck,” Journey said. “My first instinct was to fight and not to do anything else but fight,” she told Dave and Dujanovic. 

Remembering what her mother told her, she screamed 

She said she made a promise to herself that she wouldn’t let the man take her from her bike and get away with her. So she held on and said she screamed as loud as she could while hitting the man to scare him away. 

After hitting him on the elbow a number of times, Journey said, “He let go and screamed, ‘OKAY’ and ran, and I rode my bike as fast as I could home.” 

In a probable cause statement issued by police, officers said that when they arrested Richard Palmer, he admitted to grabbing the Roy girl and said he planned to take her behind a nearby vacant house and rape her.

“My first instinct was to fight” said Roy girl

That instinct and her promise not to let go came from some lessons she said her mother Lauren Brown had taught her. 

“She told me never to let go if you’re on something, and if they say get in your car, I need some help finding my dog or have some candy, never go in the car and just run and scream as long as you can, and if they do grab you then bite and then run and tell your parents so they can call someone,” Journey said. 

“She is one resilient little girl,” mom Lauren said.

“So many people have said every parent’s worst nightmare is to hear your child come in the door screaming saying someone tried to hurt me. I think they tried to take me just immediately knowing that this person was so close to home and threatening you know, our baby, our baby girl our princess our only daughter. It was absolutely horrifying,” Lauren said. 

She added that for the most part, Journey is doing well because she knows that she did all the right things.

“We have three boys as well and … basically since they were little we have always taught them that if someone tries to take you or says they have a puppy in the car you say absolutely no and you run and you scream.

“We’ve  always taught them to fight, and do not stop fighting, fight and scream as loud as you possibly can, because if someone is trying to get you into the car or into a home or any type of vehicle, the second you’re in that vehicle we may never see you again.”

When and how to have these conversations with your children

Jen Oxborrow, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with people who have experienced trauma said while cases of child abduction like this are very rare, conversations about what to do if a situation like this arises are crucial to have with children. 

Oxborrow said that conversations like the ones that happened in the Brown household should be something that happens continually in the home, in age-appropriate ways.

“We want to be careful not to trigger profound fear in kids, you know, their brains are different when they’re younger, and we don’t want to scare them. We want to empower them,” she said.

Oxborrow said that one of the first things you can do is to validate your kids’ intuition. In Journey’s case she said that something felt off about the man.

“Telling our kids to validate themselves, telling them to recognize that intuition, that sense of something being off,” Oxborrow said.

She added that in society we teach our kids to be really polite and accommodating and that there are messages that if someone is chasing your or bothering you it’s because they like you so be kind to them. 

“But when that bell or whistle goes off that something’s not right. It’s really important to tune into that regardless of what age you are and know what to do and how to get yourself safe.”

The power of positive affirmation

Lauren said in addition to having these sorts of conversations occasionally with her kids, she also did something else.

“Something that I’ve done with Journey since she was little is affirmations in the mirror. I’ve got videos of her at a very young age, two years old, saying in the mirror, ‘I am strong, I am amazing. I am powerful. I am not scared of anything.'”

“Just building their confidence because we need to empower our kids and not make them feel like they just have to be a victim, that they are so much more powerful than we think, and we have so much to learn from them.”

You can hear the full conversation about this brave Roy girl as it aired on Dave and Dujanovic below. 


Related reading:

Update: Suspect arrested after South Salt Lake abduction caught on tape

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Roy girl describes fighting back against would-be kidnapper