Grand Forks neighborhood shaken after child abduction

The suspect, 52-year-old Robert Burr, appeared in court and is behind bars facing kidnapping charges.

GRAND FORKS — A neighborhood on Belmont Road is shaken after police say a man with an extensive criminal record abducted a 6-year-old girl Thursday, July 8, as she played near her house.

According to neighbors WDAY News spoke with and Grand Forks county prosecutors, Robert Burr, 52, allegedly approached the children as they played in the alley behind their home. Burr allegedly then took the 6-year-old girl in his car and took off.

According to court documents released Friday, July 9, once the young girl was in the car, Burr told her he was driving her to "get ice cream." She screamed and and cried, and Burr brought her back, dropping her off in the alley.

Neighbor Nathan Stevenson said families up and down the neighborhood are shocked.

"You always think you are in a safe neighborhood, but there is never a safe neighborhood," Stevenson said.


Grand Forks Police said other children who had been playing with the 6-year-old gave police a description of the suspect and his car, leading to the quick arrest of Burr.

Burr's bail has been set at $750,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for August.

"If you have the chance ... speak to your child on what to do if this occurred," said Grand Forks Police lieutenant Jeremy Moe. "Find an adult, yell and holler and make commotion to make sure people know something is going on, (and) that a child needs help.

"Whatever is closest, whatever it takes, run away, scream," Stevenson said.

Neighbors on Belmont Street agreed the incident created a teaching opportunity for everyone.

The area where the abduction took place used to have mostly seniors living there, but homeowners WDAY News spoke with up and down Belmont Street say young families have moved in with kids. They also say a lot of families are shaken up over what has happened.

Burr has a lengthy criminal record of terroristic threats, and 2017 assault charges in East Grand Forks, as well as assault charges in Oregon.

Neighbors said Burr should never be out of jail again.


Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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