Missing 5-month-old girl found safe in Manatee

Posted by MARC R. MASFERRER on April 10, 2014 

MANATEE — A missing 5-month-old girl was found safe Thursday morning within a couple hours of a statewide Amber Alert being issued for the girl and her mother’s boyfriend.

The two were located by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office just before 9 a.m. in the 1400 block of 24th Street East in Palmetto.

“She is safe and sound,” Sarasota Police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge said.

The child is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families as they determine whose custody to release her to.

Police indicated it is unlikely that criminal charges will be filed against the boyfriend, who is not the father of the child.

“We believe there was no sort of criminal intent,” Judge said. “We believe he took the child until he could a hold of the right people.”

The infant was reported missing to Sarasota police at about 1 a.m. Thursday when the baby’s father told officers that his wife, the mother, had been taken to the hospital for a medical emergency and later died, according to a news release.

The father reportedly told officers that his daughter, wife and the man she had been in a relationship with for the past year had checked into the Cadillac Motel at 4021 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota prior to her being taken to the hospital. He also told them the man had been with his wife before she was taken to the hospital but had taken custody of his daughter until he could alert authorities.

“He was concerned the child would be taken away from Florida,” police said.

The two had last been seen at the hotel at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Sarasota police worked with Bradenton police in attempt to locate the man and child. Police visited the address given to the motel at check-in and a second address given to police by family where the boyfriend’s brother lives. No one was reportedly found at either location.

Police then issued a ‘Be On the Look Out’ alert for the boyfriend’s 2003 Silver Dodge Ram Pickup at about 3 a.m. At about 4:30 a.m. Sarasota police were finally able to confirm the husband’s claim that he was the biological father and guardian of the baby, when they were provided with a birth certificate.

At about 7 a.m. the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was contacted and once they received photos, a statewide Amber alert was issued.

A family member of the boyfriend who saw media coverage of the alert contacted the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were dispatched to the Palmetto address at 8:35 a.m.

“We just got information that he was at a residence,” sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow said. “He was very cooperative with us. The baby was there and the baby was fine.”

Deputies immediately contacted the Sarasota Police Department and investigators responded to the home to interview the man.

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