Jalisa Lasalle went missing last Monday between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. from her family home in New Iberia.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe/Dion Merrick & Brandon Antoine Hero Fund
Two sanitation workers in Louisiana are being applauded for their heroic deed of saving a 10-year-old girl who had been abducted from her home. Jalisa Lasalle was last seen at a family member's home in New Iberia last Monday before she went missing between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. According to the New Iberia Police Department, officers first believed that the girl was in "imminent danger" and thus they issued an Amber Alert in the middle of the night detailing a gray 2012 Nissan Altima that Lasalle was seen getting into.
On Monday morning, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine went on their trash pickup route. This is when the Pelican Waste & Debris workers happened to spot a silver sedan in the middle of a field, which was situated about 20 miles away in St. Martin Parish. The sight of a curious vehicle in the middle of the field immediately raised suspicion in their minds. "Something told me ... I said, what's that car doing off in the field like that?" Merrick was heard saying in a video which was posted on Facebook Live, according to ABC News.
Instead of ignoring it, the two decided to investigate the situation. They used their garbage truck to block the car from escaping before informing the police. "I blocked the truck in, [making] sure he couldn’t get out," continued Merrick. When cops arrived at the scene they were able to find Lasalle and get her to safety. One of the responding officers also commended the two workers for their brave actions and this made Merrick tear up. Merrick, who has a little girl of his own, added, "People act like they see stuff but they don't want to say nothing. But she's safe now. Thank God man, because I got a little girl. I'm on my job doing what I got to do."
In a statement provided to ABC News, Pelican CEO Roddie Matherne commended his employees. "We couldn’t be prouder of Dion and Brandon," said Matherne in the email. "In fact, All of our Pelican Waste team have been heroically working without fail during the pandemic quietly, professionally, and consistently serving the communities where we collect garbage & debris. They often respond in other ways while on the road. This was an exceptional thing that may very well have saved a little girl’s [life]," it continued. After being rescued the child was evaluated by medical experts, the Louisiana State Police revealed. A photo of the girl posing beside Merrick and Antoine was also shared on the Facebook page of the sanitization company.
The suspect was identified as 33-year-old Michael Sereal and he was seen being led away from the sedan by cops in the clip. At one point in the video, he could be heard shouting, "Why are you doing this to me." ABC Lafayette, Louisiana, affiliate KATC reported that Sereal knew one of the members of the girl's family. The resident of New Iberia was charged with aggravated kidnapping of a child and failure to register as a sex offender, per online jail records. The suspect is now being held at the Iberia Parish Jail without bond. He is listed on the New Iberia sex offender database for a 2016 conviction of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The database indicated that Sereal was supposed to be on "supervised release" until 2012. However, in 2018, his probation was revoked. The same year was the last time police were able to verify his whereabouts. Apparently, he had given his location as "homeless" in New Iberia. It is unclear if Sereal has retained an attorney or not.