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A South Salt Lake man with a history of mental illness has been charged with allegedly trying to snatch a child from over a fence.

The 45-year-old man was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with attempted child kidnapping and obstructing justice. The kidnapping charge carries a potential sentence of 15 years and the obstruction charge a maximum of five years in prison.

According to jail documents, the man was trying to play with some children on June 24 at his apartment complex, near 3700 South and 300 East. Parents of the children told him to stop playing, and he went down the street, police wrote.

He started talking to a group of kids again and then "grabbed the hand of one of them over a 3-foot chain link fence," police wrote.

The 8-year-old boy told police that he thought the man was going to "steal" him, according to the charges.

An 11-year-old girl was watching this happen and told her 9-year-old brother to help, so he ran over and tried to pull the boy free from the man's hold, the charges add. The girl told police that the man told them "you guys are coming with me," the charges add.

The father of one of the children then came outside, and the man threatened to kill him, investigators wrote in the jail document. He also told the girl he would kill her as she reached for her phone, the charges add.

The man was eventually arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County jail.

In 2005, the man pleaded guilty and mentally ill to burglary, according to court documents. He was sentenced to five years on probation.

mmcfall@sltrib.comTwitter: @mikeypanda

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