(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — As a desperate search for a baby taken in a car theft went into its third day Wednesday, Ohio police released new surveillance images of “person of interest” at a gas station with the stolen sedan.
The search for 5-month-old Kason Thomass was launched Monday night after he and his twin brother, Kyair, went missing when a homeless woman allegedly stole their mom’s running car in the Columbus, Ohio. The twins were inside the care as their mom stepped away to pick up a food order, police said.
Kyair Thomass was found early Tuesday morning abandoned at the Dayton International Airport, more than 70 miles from Columbus, which a deputy police chief called, “a troubling aspect of this case.”
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant identified 24-year-old homeless woman Nalah Jackson as a person of interest in the case.
“We’re begging you to please return Kason,” Bryant said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, directing her words to Jackson. “Right now our concern is to get the baby. We want to make sure Kason is safe.”
Surveillance images released by police captured Jackson at a gas station in the Dayton suburb of Huber Heights early Tuesday morning driving the stolen black 2010 Honda Accord. In a statement posted on Twitter, police said that while at the gas station, Jackson asked an employee for money.
Columbus Deputy Chief Smith Weir said Jackson was captured on the gas station’s surveillance cameras shortly before additional security video showed her dropping off Kyair at the Dayton airport around 4:30 a.m.
Weir said it was “troubling aspect” that Jackson would leave one of the babies but keep the other.
“It’s perplexing as to why that would be,” Weir said. “Obviously we could all let our imaginations run wild, but we have to deal with what the facts are, and the facts are we’re still looking for one child.”
Bryant said the incident unfolded about 9:45 p.m. Monday while Kyair and Kason were alone in the Honda Accord their mother left running after stopping a Donatos Pizza restaurant in the Short North Arts District of northeast Columbus to pick up a Door Dash order.
The mother’s car was stolen soon after she went into the restaurant, police said. When the mother turned to look at her car from inside the restaurant, she noticed it was gone along with her twin babies, police said.
Bryant said witnesses told police that Jackson was seated inside the restaurant when the mother walked in.
The car has not been located and Bryant said it remained unclear if the suspect dumped the vehicle somewhere or was still driving it.
An Amber Alert was issued by the state Highway Patrol around 1:37 a.m. Tuesday. Police said the delay in issuing the alert was due to the stolen vehicle, which the mother recently purchased, not having license plates.
Bryant said at least 60 Columbus police officers have been assigned to the case and other law enforcement agencies were assisting in the search for the child. The chief said officers checked multiple residences around Columbus where Jackson once lived and searched several homeless encampments in Columbus she has been known to frequent.
Weir said he is worried about Kason’s well-being, saying, “We consider this child to be in danger.”
“This is a cry for help,” Weir said. “We’re asking the community to come forward and help us find this child.”
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