When the elderly man sat down next to her, Tracy Nigh thought they were going to have an ordinary conversation. Then, the bidding started.
As WKMG News reports, Nigh was sitting on a bench with her 8-year-old daughter at a Walmart in Port Orange, Florida. When 81-year-old Hellmuth Kolb sat down beside them, Nigh saw no reason to worry.
The mom told WKMG that Kolb started an innocuous chat with her, asking whether Nigh was married: “It seemed like a friendly conversation. He didn’t seem like a threat at first.”
But things took a strange turn when the topic changed to Nigh’s daughter. To the mom’s astonishment, Kolb began asking whether she would sell her daughter to him.
What’s more, Kolb began upping the price he would pay. Nigh said that he made a few offers before she got up and left the bench:
“The first amount was $100,000, the second amount was $150,000 and then the final amount was $200,000. I then said ‘No, we have to go.'”
The mom added that she quickly moved from astonishment to alarm: “I think what was going through my mind was, ‘What was going to happen here?’ and I just need to get her away as quickly as possible.”
But Kolb didn’t let the pair leave that easily. As Nigh tried to get away with her young daughter, Kolb grabbed at the girl. He tried to pull the daughter back toward him, even clasping her arm and kissing her on the wrist.
After making sure her daughter was safe, Nigh reported the incident to Walmart security before leaving the store. According to the Orlando Sentinel, she then followed up by calling police.
Using store surveillance cameras and payment records, police were able to track down Kolb, who was arrested and charged with false imprisonment and simple battery. After being booked into Volusia County Jail, he posted bond and is now back home. When confronted by reporters, Kolb was indignant, saying that he didn’t know why he had been in court.
Nigh posted about the incident on Facebook, and at least one other woman has claimed she had a similar experience with Kolb. Nigh told WKMG:
“I felt like it was a duty to my community that I needed to warn other parents. The more that come forward the better I think for this and for the community.”