After a frantic nighttime search that lasted more than 12 hours and was initially suspected to be a kidnapping, a 9-month-old baby was located in central Alabama. According to documents obtained by PEOPLE, an Amber Alert was cancelled by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency on Tuesday morning, and the Parrish Police Department in Alabama issued a statement saying, “the child has been found safe.”
Harlow Darby Freeman was reported missing after her father reported his SUV stolen in Parrish, Alabama, at around 7 p.m. local time on Monday. According to AL.com, the dad went to visit a pal and came back out to find the car gone. About three hours later, the ALEA issued an Amber Alert requesting the public’s assistance in locating Harlow.
However, police now say they believe there was no vehicle thief and no kidnapping when the child was located in the car Tuesday morning directly across the street from the residence, as reported by AL.com. Instead, it is suspected that the father did not fully put the vehicle in park, causing it to roll backwards and into a thick patch of kudzu across the street.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Missing Ala. Infant Found After Dad’s Parking Mishap Led to Amber Alert: ‘We Couldn’t Be Any Happier’ https://t.co/05nA1mqJUz
— People (@people) July 11, 2023
“Daylight was our friend on this one,” Parrish Police Chief Danny Woodard was quoted as saying. Aunt Melinda Hutchison informed WBRC that they are taking Harlow to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham as a preventative step. The family, she said, is “feeling ecstatic” following the frantic nighttime search.
“She’s been found and we couldn’t be any happier,” she said. “Have to give God all the glory.” On Tuesday morning, after hearing the news, family members were seen crying and holding one other, as reported by local ABC 33/40.
Authorities from multiple levels of government had spread out across Walker County in a desperate search for the missing child, Woodard had said at an earlier news conference.
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On Tuesday morning, he told AL.com that the location where Harlow was eventually found had been searched four times. Woodard told the media that they are still looking into how the car became stuck in the kudzu. Whether the father didn’t fully put the car in park or whether someone else slid the car down the embankment across the street is still under investigation.
“We just aren’t sure yet,” the police chief stated. Bethany Smith, the child’s mother, posted a Facebook appeal late Monday night saying that her daughter had been restrained in a rear-facing car seat at the time. It was assumed at the time that the kidnapping had occurred. “All I ask is for my baby back,” Smith wrote. “Y’all can keep the car! Just bring me my baby and no questions asked!”
Those with knowledge were implored by Mayor Jared Bubba Cagle to “please come forward,” and a prize of $5,000 was offered by the family.
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