Workers across the Quad-Cities inspected playgrounds Tuesday after a 2-year-old boy injured his hand on razor blades that someone had glued to park equipment the day before in East Moline.

No suspect had been caught as of Tuesday afternoon, East Moline Police Capt. John Reynolds said, adding that an investigation is ongoing.

Once caught, the suspect faces a Class X felony of aggravated battery to a child, which carries a penalty of 6-30 years in prison, he said.

"The seriousness of this is pretty evident," Reynolds said. "Any time you put razor blades on playground equipment where children play, it's very serious. The way they were put on there shows someone wanted to do harm to a child."

Police were alerted about 12:45 p.m. Monday after razor blades were found in Millennium Park in East Moline. A toddler suffered a small cut on his hand from a razor blade, Reynolds said.

Police found some of the 12 blades glued to playground equipment, and some were in the wood chips on the ground, Reynolds said.

Reynolds said police have narrowed the time someone put the blades in the park to between late Sunday afternoon and about noon Monday.

Meanwhile, police say they have stepped up patrols around area's parks, especially with temperatures headed into the 60s this weekend and a lot of families and children likely visiting parks.

"People using the parks have to be our eyes and ears," Laura Duran, Moline's parks recreational director, said. "Notify the police department if you see anything suspicious."

Moline crews began at 7 a.m. Tuesday to inspect the city's 21 parks, wrapping up about mid-afternoon. Doug House, Moline's general manager for municipal services, said nothing was found.

"Like every city, we were shocked anyone would do this to children," he said. "We continue to be vigilant. We'll do periodic inspections until the person is caught."

Rodd Schick, Moline's park operations manager, said he foresees every park being inspected on a weekly basis. Inspecting playground equipment more frequently is one change his department is making in light of the razor blades being found.

"I've been in the parks recreation industry over 20 years and have never seen anything like this," Schick said.

House said it takes a "deranged" individual to do this.

"This came completely out of nowhere," House said. "I've never heard of this before."

Reynolds said he is reaching out to law enforcement agencies across the country but hasn't been told of similar incidents elsewhere.

"It's nothing I've ever heard of," Reynolds said.

East Moline police and staff checked all of its parks Monday afternoon and evening, and other cities fanned out Tuesday morning to inspect playground equipment.

"We sent out the whole crew of six people to check all playgrounds to make sure they were safe for the weekend," said Todd Voelliger, park maintenance manager in Bettendorf.

In all, the city has 18 playgrounds.

"We found nothing, thank God," he said. "As soon as I heard the story, I thought, what a sick person who would do this, and I wanted to make sure our playgrounds are safe. I was shocked last night to hear about this."

Dick Ewald, longtime superintendent of parks in Rock Island, did the same thing.

"We had one of our certified playground inspectors check out playgrounds. We have 23 playgrounds," Ewald said. "We didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

"I have never heard of anything as malicious as this. We might get graffiti, or people break things. Not too much. But we never had someone who did something to knowingly harm somebody. That's a little off the wall. It is a little scary. Any parents, people in the park, would be scared of that situation. It is one thing to see a broken bottle laying around. It is another to knowingly glue razors on equipment. We have a clean bill of health, now. Hopefully, the person realizes what they could have inflicted upon someone."

Like Bettendorf, Ewald said Rock Island does regular inspections in parks.

"I reinforced with the guys today, that when they do inspections, to really look hard," he said.

Both Ewald and Voelliger said they think any parents taking their children out to area parks now will do a thorough inspection before allowing their children to use the playground equipment.

Davenport Police Maj. Don Schaeffer said certified park inspectors checked all 30 of the city's parks Tuesday morning.

"They inspected everything and found nothing that needed correction," he said.

Monday’s incident also prompted school districts to check on playground equipment, much of which is open to the public.

“This is the work of a twisted individual unfortunately,” East Moline Superintendent Kristin Humphries said.

Humphries said principals and maintenance staff across the district checked all the playgrounds Tuesday to make sure there is nothing hazardous or harmful to students.

Nothing was found in the search, Humphries said. He said playgrounds will be checked daily for a while to make sure they remain safe. 

Maintenance staff at the Rock Island-Milan School District also searched playgrounds Tuesday but found nothing, spokeswoman Holly Sparkman said.

(Doug Schorpp, Jack Cullen and Tara Becker contributed to this story.)


Jack Cullen is a reporter uncovering offbeat stories about people and places in the Quad-City area.