DALLAS -- A convenience store owner in one of Dallas' poorest neighborhoods was amazed when she started seeing children from the elementary school across the street buying candy and chips with $100 bills.
''One boy came in here with a $100 bill and asked for change," Charlene Williams said. When she told the boy he needed to be careful with his ''mama's money," he told her: ''This ain't my mama's money. This is my money."
It turned out that a youngster had found tens of thousands of dollars in suspected drug money and was handing it out to others.
But soon, some men came looking for the money, spreading fear through the South Dallas neighborhood.
Over the past few days, parents have told police that men had come to their doors, threatening their children and demanding their money back. The school was so rife with rumors and threats of a drive-by shooting that it was locked down for an hour Wednesday and about 200 of the 600 children stayed home the next day.
On Thursday night, a man was arrested and accused of abducting and beating a 12-year-old boy who had some of the money. The boy was later returned home.
Before he was jailed on $5 million bail, the suspect, Sylvespa Adams, 23, told KDFW-TV that he never threatened anyone and that the money had been stolen from him. He disputed that it was drug money, as police suspect.
''I'm not no kidnapper," he said. ''I work."
The boy's mother told The Dallas Morning News that her son had spent part of the money and given away the rest. She said she assured Adams that she would pay him back in installments.
''I don't know what else to do," she told the newspaper, speaking on condition of anonymity. ''These people already know where I stay."
In another incident, Erie Roy told the newspaper that she was watching television with her 12-year-old son Tuesday when two men stormed through her open front door with two of the boy's friends. She said one man kept his hand in his pocket as though he had a gun, and one of the boys was crying.
Roy said one man threatened her son by telling him: ''I don't have no problem with killing you. I want my money."
''These are drug dealers. If they come back -- I'm afraid," she said, sobbing. ''I know they're going to hurt me. What am I supposed to do?"
Roy said her youngest son was offered money by neighborhood kids last Sunday but did not take any.
Lieutenant Jan Easterling, a police spokeswoman, said Thursday that detectives think the youngsters may have found anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000.
Yesterday, investigators said they were trying to determine who found the money, where, and how much. There were no additional suspects, and none of the children had been charged with a crime.