UPDATE: Officials say Tomeeka Pope has been located. No other details were immediately released.
CLEVELAND (WJW)– Concern is growing for a woman, whose three children were found alone inside a vehicle, at a Cleveland gas station.
The children are all safe, but police are searching for their mother and an unknown man seen parking the vehicle. Cleveland police said Tomeeka Pope and the three children were reported missing out of Maple Heights.
“It’s unusual for her to leave the kids like that, so that probably concerns me more than anything,” said Lenard Pope, Sr., the missing woman’s father.
Pope said he is praying for the quick and safe return of his 28-year-old daughter. Cleveland police said Tomeeka’s three children, ages 2, 3, and 5 years old, were discovered alone in an SUV parked at a gas station at East 131st Street and Harvard Avenue at about 10:30 a.m. Monday.
“That was a blessing all by itself, but we still… There’s still some unfinished business in making sure that she’s OK and she gets back home,” Pope told FOX 8 over the phone.
According to investigators, witnesses saw a man park the vehicle at the gas station around 8 a.m. They saw him walk away about 90 minutes later. The children were discovered inside about an hour after that.
Police said Tomeeka’s mother had reported her and the children missing to Maple Heights police on Sunday. Her father, who is currently out of town on business, said he last spoke to his daughter Saturday morning. He said she was excited about starting a new job at a day care in Bedford Heights.
“Actually today was supposed to be her first day because… I’ve been talking to her all weekend up until Saturday evening. I was calling her, her phone was going into voicemail and my son went by the house and there was no one at the house,” he said.
Lenard Pope said the family recently moved to Maple Heights from Painesville. He said she and the children’s father live together, and he has no idea who the man parking the SUV might’ve been.
“She’s had her personal challenges in the past, but as far as we knew, those situations were behind her… She’s just a young lady, really trying to work and raise her kids,” Pope said.
Police said the children appeared the be in good health when they were found. They were taken to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital as a precaution.
Police said Tomeeka Pope could be in the area of East 131st and Harvard, and they are still actively searching for her.
Anyone with information about where she might be is asked to call Maple Heights police at 216-662-1234.