For nearly three hours, officers were “following every lead” to find a vehicle stolen in front of an Ohio home with an 18-day-old baby inside. However, police now say the infant was never missing, and the mother has been charged over the incident.
Police issued alerts for the red 2003 Ford Focus stolen while still running in front of a home in 700 block of Hopkins Street in the West End neighborhood at around 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Newborn Lamilyan McCollum was inside dressed in a grey sleeper in the back seat.
The vehicle was seen with four males inside around 8:20 a.m., according to the Enquirer. The vehicle crashed and the men fled, though three were apprehended. The baby was not found.
That fourth suspect, a 15-year-old who investigators believed initially stole the vehicle, was eventually found in the neighborhood where the car was reported stolen, according to NBC affiliate WLWT. He has been arrested.
Then, police announced just before 9:40 a.m. the baby was home with her mother.
During a 3:30 p.m. news conference, police revealed that the baby was never missing, according to WLWT. Instead, the mother was snuck out of the home and fled in a taxi while officers searched the neighborhood. She then returned with the child.
The mother, 28-year-old Nacole Benton, has been charged with one count each of obstructing official business, making false alarms and inducing panic, according to the Enquirer.
Lt. Steve Saunders said the teen and the baby's mother are "acquaintances," according to WLWT.
The 18-day-old and two other children were taken from the home by Hamilton County Child Protection, police told the Enquirer.
“We’re just not certain what actually occurred here,” Police Chief Eliot Isaac told WLWT. “What actually transpired is still unclear, there’s quite a bit of conflicting information that we received.”