University grad student to be tried after four reports of approaching teenage girls

Pitts Champaign County

Pitts Champaign County

By Sky Opila

Editor’s Note: The Daily Illini’s previous reports on Matthew Pitts’ court appearance were preliminary and did not reflect the final outcome of Tuesday’s hearing. The following article correctly reports the ultimate conclusion of Pitts’ hearing. The Daily Illini regrets the discrepancy.

Alleged child abductor Matthew Pitts, 24, of Champaign, did not appear in court Tuesday afternoon for his preliminary hearing. Initially, Champaign County Circuit Judge John Kennedy issued a bench warrant for Pitts’ arrest in the amount of $1 million, however, it was withdrawn after it came to the courts knowledge that Pitts was undergoing inpatient treatment.

Pitts, a graduate student at the University, posted 10 percent of the $250,000 bond that was set on May 7 after his arrest on May 4 stemming from several incidents of attempting to lure female children, ranging in age from 12 to 17, into his vehicle.

He is scheduled to appear in court for further hearing in the case on June 5.

On April 30, Urbana police received reports about an unknown male suspect approaching female middle school students after school, according to an Urbana Police Department press release. On May 4, Pitts was arrested for child abduction when he was allegedly attempting to lure a child into his motor vehicle.

Officers have been made aware of four separate incidents where Pitts allegedly approached young girls over a period of several weeks. In each report, he was driving either a two or four door maroon car.

According to the release, Pitts allegedly asked for directions to Lincoln Square Mall then asked the victims if they wanted a ride and made other comments. In one specific incident, Pitts displayed a video camera and asked the girl if she wanted to be in a video he was making.

Urbana Police are asking parents in the Champaign-Urbana area to talk to their children, especially middle school and high school aged girls, to see if a person has approached them under similar circumstances. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Urbana Police Department immediately.