Fort Worth kidnapper’s criminal history called into question

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Salem Sabatka was walking with her mother when officers say 51-year-old Michael Webb pulled up in his car, grabbed the child, and drove away. She was later found safe when two citizens spotted his car in a hotel parking lot.

Now that Salem is safe, KETK went digging into Webb’s criminal past. Leaving us wondering why he was out on the street, to begin with. 

Webb has a long criminal history across East Texas. His most recent crime was dismissed just 6 months ago. 

Sexual assault, evading arrest, driving with a suspended license, assault with a deadly weapon, all committed here in East Texas. Now, kidnapping charges out of Fort Worth. All committed by Webb. 

Some are wondering why he had the chance to commit another crime. 

“Lets say that they have such a lengthy criminal history, I mean if they’ve done their time, they’re no longer on parole there’s really no way to keep tabs on him,” explains Richard Vance, Smith County Assistant District Attorney, when KETK asked if there was any way to keep track of offenders who continue to commit crimes. 

Back in April of last year, Webb was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a knife. A crime that normally carries up to 20 years in prison, but for Webb nothing, because of the victim leaving town. 

“The judge kindly enough gave us a month to find the victim, another month. We came back after a month still couldn’t find that victim,” says Vance, as he remembers the case. 

Not wanting to take the chance in court, Vance dismissed the charges. 

“I felt at the time if we go to trial without the victim. I believe that it’s probably going to get a not guilty,” expressed Vance, not knowing Webb’s crimes would escalate. 

“In fact, there was nothing in his history to indicate that he would do anything like this when it came to abducting a child or anything like that,” says Vance. 

Kidnapping 8-year-old Salem Sabatka now safe, and a criminal off the street. 

The Smith County District Attorney’s Office says they could possibly still pursue charges against Webb for the aggravated assault. This will not conflict with his current kidnapping charges. 

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