McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

April 26, 2014

No criminal charges expected in missing child case

McALESTER — A 3-year-old child reported taken from the McAlester Wal-Mart Supercenter on Thursday afternoon has been found and is OK, according to police — but the person believed  to have taken her may not face criminal charges.

The child is believed to have been driven away from the store by a woman who was identified as a cousin of the child’s mother, Leanda George, according to McAlester Police Det. Sgt. Chris Morris.

Morris said the FBI has told McAlester police the child has been located and she is safe. The cousin who was reported to have taken the child was believed to have been headed to Killeen, Texas.

FBI Media Representative Martinus D. McConnell said Friday authorities are now considering the case a civil matter.

“From my understanding, the child is with who the child has been with since shortly after birth,” McConnell said.

“Typically, law enforcement does not get in the middle of civil matters,” he said.

McConnell said he did not have the specific location of the child immediately available for public release.

However, “The child is not missing,” he said.

The incident began when the cousin drove to McAlester from Texas and wanted to take George and her children shopping on Thursday, according to Morris.

At one point, the 3-year-old said she needed to go to the rest room and the cousin volunteered to take her, Morris said.

When the cousin did not return with the child, George looked around the store and then went outside to look in the parking lot.

In the parking lot, George saw the cousin drive past her with George’s child in the back seat, according to information resulting from the McAlester police investigation.

McAlester police officer Jeremy Orr responded to the initial call. Police believed the child was being driven to Killeen, Texas, to the home of a woman with whom George and her child had once lived, according to authorities.

McAlester police issued a bulletin over the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunication Service and over the National Crime Information Center to be on the lookout for a white Nissan reported driven by the woman identified as cousin.

“The Killeen Police Department was notified to be on the lookout,” Morris said.

Details were sketchy Friday about exactly where and how the child was found. Morris said the FBI had taken over the investigation. McConnell didn’t have further details available.

No arrests had been reported at the time this article was being prepared for publication and, based on what McConnell related on behalf of the FBI, none were expected.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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