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Abducted 7-year-old escapes

A 7-year-old kidnapped girl escaped her captors Tuesday night by chewing through duct tape binding her arms and legs, smashing a window and then calling to nearby playing children for help, police said.

One of the children rode a bike from the abandoned building where Erica Pratt was being held down the street to alert officers, police Lt. Michael Chitwood said. The girl had been grabbed, kicking and screaming, from in front of her home Monday night.

Police were searching for two suspects late Tuesday. Chitwood said Erica had only minor injuries.

The girl had been left on a mattress in the basement of the building in northern Philadelphia with her arms and legs bound with duct tape, Chitwood said.

"She was eventually able to free herself from the duct tape, she broke through the basement door, she made her way to the first floor and she couldn't get out, so she smashed the window," Chitwood said. "And she summoned help of a couple of little kids who were playing in front of the house."

The children pulled Erica out of the window, Chitwood said.

Police said they were searching for James Burns, 29, and Edward Johnson, 23, who are considered suspects in the abduction. Earlier Tuesday, police had said the men were known to the girl's family and that their names had been provided by two witnesses.

Erica was playing Monday evening with her 5-year-old sister in front of their grandmother's row house in southwest Philadelphia when two men drove up, called her by name and dragged her into their car as she screamed and resisted, witnesses told police said.

Less than 20 minutes later, Erica's grandmother and primary caregiver received the first of at least six calls from a man who threatened to kill the girl unless he received a $150,000 ransom, police said.

During one of the calls, police said the kidnappers allowed Erica to speak briefly with her grandmother.

Police said Erica's kidnappers might have believed false rumors in the neighborhood that Erica's family had received a $150,000 insurance payment in the shooting death of her uncle.

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