A registered sex offender was arrested Wednesday for allegedly kidnapping and interfering with the custody of a child.
Miguel Angel Rodriguez Jr. was out of prison less than a month after serving a six-year sentence for indecent assault of a minor when he walked off with a 4-year-old boy in Bethlehem, police said.
"Anyone who messes with kids like that should be in jail, locked up and have the key thrown away," said Robert Bradford, a Bethlehem resident.
"This is my worst thing. I'm always upset with stuff like this and kids," said Bev Osborne, another resident.
Rodriguez, 26, allegedly walked away with the boy around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday near the 100 block of Goepp Street.
Rodriguez, who lives nearby on North New Street, and the boy were found three hours later only a block from the boy's home, according to court documents.
A family friend of the victim found the boy, who at the time was wearing Rodriguez's jacket.
"He did not kidnap this child," said Maria Nieves, Rodriguez's mother, adding that her son was a friend of the boy's family.
Rodriguez, Nieves said, went to celebrate the boy's birthday but instead blacked out after being given drugs and alcohol.
When Rodriguez came to several hours later, Nieves said her son realized he had the boy and only wanted to return him to his home. Nieves also said the boy was not abused.
Ashley Rosado, a next-door neighbor and mother of a 2-year-old child, however, said she's now terrified, especially after learning Rodriguez is listed on the Megan's Law website.
"He would play with my son, even held him a few times. I thought was a little strange, so I wouldn't let him do it too much," Rosado said.
Nieves also said her son suffers from mental disorders, includingschizophrenia.
Rodriguez was charged with kidnapping and drug possession and committed to the Northampton County Prison on $50,000 bail. He's due in court for a preliminary hearing on April 15.