COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Columbus authorities on Tuesday afternoon gave an update on the search for a missing infant, one of a pair of 5-month-old twins who were abducted Monday evening.
Though one infant, Kyair Thomass, has since been found safe, the search continues for his twin, Kason Thomass. Columbus police on Tuesday released new photos of the suspect, Nalah Jackson, and the vehicle, a black 2010 Honda Accord with temporary tag number M965246.
Representatives of the family in a Tuesday evening press conference said the boy’s mother and father are currently in Dayton — the last known location of the suspect — searching for the boy. A monetary reward is being offered for information that may lead to his return, the amount of which was undisclosed.
Michelle Luster, representative of Dock Ellis Foundation, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit that advocates for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence and the families missing persons, spoke on the family’s behalf.
“Right now, we just want to find the baby,” Luster said. “If she can take the baby to a fire station or a church or whatever — we just want to bring the baby home to mom and dad.”
The foundation’s tip line is 1-888-222-6050. Those who want to aid in the search can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family, through representatives, thanked the good Samaritan who found Kyair on Tuesday at the Dayton International Airport and helped him get to safety.
Though the child was unharmed and is now happy and healthy with his parents, a representative said he was left out in the cold before being discovered.
The outdoor temperatures only add to the “tremendous sense of urgency” to find the child, Columbus police Deputy Chief Smith Weir said in an earlier press conference on Tuesday.
“We consider this child to be in danger,” he said. “That’s why we’re expending the resources we are and we’re asking for the community’s help. We are asking the community to come forward and help locate this child.”
City police Chief Elaine Bryant in a press conference earlier Tuesday pleaded with the suspect, Nalah Jackson, urging her to leave the child in a public place and notify authorities.
“Please return Kason Thomass,” she said.
More than 60 officers have been “doing everything they can” since the abduction was first reported Monday, she said, including some third-shift officers who “didn’t want to go home” until the children were found.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued just after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. But that alert was delayed nearly four hours from the initial report, authorities said.
The search continues
An “around-the-clock search” continues for Kason Thomass.
Columbus police just after 5 p.m. Tuesday released new photos of the suspect, Nalah Jackson, and the stolen 2010 Honda Accord, taken from a Huber Heights gas station. Jackson reportedly asked a gas station employee for money while driving the stolen car.
Police also have new leads from surveillance footage of the vehicle when it was seen in Huber Heights, Bryant said Tuesday.
The most recent sighting of Jackson and the vehicle was from surveillance footage at the Dayton airport, just before 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Nalah Jackson, 24, is 5’7″ and 130 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a dark-colored hoodie.
Police said there’s currently no indication that Jackson knew the victim or her children.
The vehicle connected to the abduction has not been found but it is thought to have heavy left-side damage and purple paint transfer from a crash along Interstate 70 near Huber Heights.
Police are looking for a 2010, four-door, black Honda accord. It has a torn, temporary Ohio tag on the back with the tag number M965246. It also has a white bumper sticker that says “Westside City Toys.” The woman told police the vehicle was missing its front bumper.
Authorities added Tuesday it’s possible Jackson is no longer driving the car.
According to the alert, Kason and Kyair Thomass were wearing brown outfits when they were taken.
Anyone with information is asked to call Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.
Officers have since checked more than a dozen of Jackson’s former addresses.
“We’re tracking every lead and following every moment from the time these babies went missing,” Bryant said.
Bryant added it’s possible Kason Thomass has been left somewhere, but has not yet been found.
“Which is why we’re pleading for anybody to be vigilant, to make sure that you’re paying attention,” Bryant said. “Even if you think it’s something that’s not a big deal. It could be a baby blanket, a car seat. Anything that you might find, please notify us so that we may follow up on that.”
Bryant on Tuesday provided a timeline of the investigation:
9:45 p.m., Monday, Dec. 19: Police received a call from the Donatos Pizza along North High Street reporting a stolen vehicle with twin 5-month-old children inside, Kason and Kyair Thomass. Their mother had gone inside the store to retrieve a DoorDash order.
9:52 p.m.: Officers arrived at the store. Employees told police a homeless woman named Nalah Jackson was in the store. Jackson left when the victim walked in and is believed to have stolen the mother’s car. Jackson was later positively identified by employees.
10:17 p.m.: More than 50 officers started a grid-pattern search of the area, aided by a police helicopter.
10:30 p.m.: Other law enforcement agencies were notified of the search, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol and police departments at Ohio State University and in Grandview and Upper Arlington.
11 p.m.: Other police agencies investigate Jackson’s former addresses as well as three known homeless camps.
11:45 p.m.: Columbus police Sgt. Kyle Fishburn requested the statewide Amber Alert from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
12:05 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 20: That alert had not yet been fulfilled. Columbus police Deputy Chief Weir again requested an Amber Alert from the patrol.
12:30 a.m.: Additional detectives were called in from home to aid in the search.
1:37 a.m.: The Amber Alert was issued.
4:15 a.m.: Police received a call that Kyair Thomass was abandoned near the Dayton International Airport. The airport police told FOX 8’s sister station, WDTN, that Kyair Thomass was found in a car seat, wrapped up in a quilt jumper, by a passenger who was walking in the economy lot and heard the baby crying. The baby was examined by medics and returned to his parents, police said Tuesday afternoon.
6 a.m.: City police investigators left to follow leads in the Dayton area, where Jackson is believed to have connections.
11:15 a.m.: Police in Huber Heights inform Columbus police that the suspect vehicle was seen on surveillance footage from a crash. That crash occurred before Kyair Thomass was left at the airport, Weir said.
Amber Alert delayed; communication breakdown
When asked about the delay of the missing child alert, Weir told reporters the mother’s vehicle did not have a license plate and the vehicle had just recently been purchased from a “buy here pay here” dealership. Investigators then worked to verify the vehicle’s VIN number.
“There was some back and forth with us talking to the state about what the requirements were for the Amber Alert,” Weir said. “Obviously, it’s a unique circumstance when there’s no license plate. … We obviously pushed forward. Our position was we needed the Amber Alert and it was necessary in this case.”
When asked why authorities waited until Tuesday afternoon to call a press conference, Bryant said she was not initially informed of the abduction and was instead briefed the following day.
“Internally, there was a lapse in communication. Had I known, we would have had the press conference last night,” she said. “That doesn’t meant the team wasn’t doing the work.”