Child taken from day care found

April 13, 2008 3:58:03 PM PDT
There was a highly emotional ending to a heart-wrenching few hours for a 21-month-old girl and her family. She's back where she should be, in her parents arms. And an accused kidnapper is also behind bars. Little Jakaila Brantley was re-united with her family and loved ones Friday night. Seven hours after the toddler was allegedly abducted by a day care center employee, she was back in her parents arms, the end to an afternoon filled with panic and confusion that began with a call to Shemika Thacker, saying her daughter was taken.

"The woman who is usually there, who's been working there, went to the restroom and when she came back from the restroom, this person was gone," she said.

Relatives descended on Mother Care day care in southwest Houston. At one point, there was a confrontation between the child's father and a woman in a day care center van. The father, for a time, was put in the back of a police car.

An hour after the child disappeared, there was false hope. A little girl was located at a transit center. It was a false lead. The mother returned to begin hours of waiting, making an appeal to her daughter's abductor.

"I don't know what type of loss you've experienced to where you're missing your child that much, but just imagine what you're going through and the hurt that you feel losing your child and have another mother's consideration and bring her back," said Shemika.

And then there was movement. They day care manager was taken by police to be interviewed about the suspect. She begged the father for forgiveness.

Not long after that came word that Jakaila was finally found for real and a joyous reunion followed.

"I can't even describe it," said Shemika. "I'm just glad to have her back."

A lot of people are. A spontaneous celebration broke out on the spot.

The suspect

There was a silent walk as police led a woman into HPD headquarters downtown. Just hours before, an angry mob gathered at the Emerald Isle apartments to watch her arrest. The woman accused of abducting Jakaila was turned in by her own cousin's husband after seeing her walking through his neighborhood.

Dahpo Oshinkoya, who called police said, "I just saw her walking with the baby and I said, 'Oh my God. That's the lady everybody's looking for'."

The woman's family who helped notify police said she's been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Child Protective Services also confirms her own child was taken away in January for alleged neglect.

"I didn't know she would do anything like this. It's terrifying to me because that's my family member," said Charackas Cleaver, the suspect's cousin.

The arrest comes after a frustrating day of searching and false leads. At the Hillcroft transit center, a woman was detained after the child she was holding matched Jakaila's description. Jakaila's mother confirmed the baby was not hers. She collapsed and Priscilla Johnson left in a flood of tears.

"I'm innocent. I don't have any reason to steal no children," she said.

Tonight, the suspect continues to be questioned at police headquarters. The man who helped turn her in says he's happy he was able to reunite the little girl with her mother.

"Thank God for them that they found that baby because who knows what would have happened to her," said Oshinkoya.

The day care

We've done some checking with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and found Mother Care day care has had several violations over the past couple of years.

In February of 2008, Mother Care daycare was cited for not giving some employees background checks. In January of 2008, an official with CPS noticed the day care did not make an accountability list of children being transferred in a van. Also in July of 2006, a worker noticed seven young children left unsupervised in the back classroom of the day care. Neither of the two day care workers were able to see them. The children were between the ages of three and 11.

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