COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — As of Wednesday afternoon, authorities had not located 5-month-old Kason Thomass, the woman accused of abducting him and his twin on Monday, or the stolen vehicle she drove away.
City detectives on Tuesday evening filed kidnapping charges against the suspect, 24-year-old Nalah Jackson, who is believed to have stolen the car belonging to the twins’ mother while her children were inside. A nationwide warrant was issued for her arrest.
Though one of the twins, Kyair Thomass, was found safe at a Dayton airport early Tuesday, the search for his twin Kason Thomass continued Wednesday afternoon, more than 40 hours after the children were abducted.
Authorities in a Wednesday afternoon update on the investigation urged the public to be vigilant and gave multiple ways notify authorities.
“I encourage anyone — anyone — that may have information big or small to call the tip line,” said Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant. “You may not think it’s significant. … We’re asking you to call the tip line, to help us try to bring Kason home safely.”
Tipsters should call 911 “if it’s something that’s happening right in front of you, in that moment,” Bryant said. Otherwise, she urged tipsters to call Columbus police at 614-645-4701 or the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
Though much of the investigation is currently focused in Dayton and around Montgomery County — where Jackson was last seen — “we want to make sure we’re exhausting every lead, every tip,” Bryant said.
Authorities have set up an operations center to log tips and assign them for follow-up, said Deputy Chief Smith Weir.
They’re following up on a tip received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Jackson was seen with the child and a man at a gas station in the Dayton area.
Authorities investigating in the Dayton area — where she is believed to have connections — learned Jackson was approaching people, asking to use their phone. One of the people she contacted was an ex-boyfriend, who described the phone call when interviewed by authorities, Weir said.
Authorities are also working to contact Jackson’s family, but have not been successful, he said.
City police have also sent alerts to five surrounding states to find Jackson and the vehicle. They’re unable to issue an Amber Alert in those states since there have not been confirmed sightings of the suspect in another state, said Weir.
Be on the lookout
Nalah Tamiko Jackson, 24, of Columbus, is believed to have stolen a black 2010 Honda Accord outside of a pizza shop along North High Street.
Jackson is described as a Black female with brown hair and eyes, standing 5-foot-7 and weighing 130 pounds. She was last seen wearing a dark-colored hoodie.
Kason Thomass is described as a Black child with brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown outfit.
The vehicle is a black 2010 Honda Accord with a temporary tag number of M965246 and a VIN number of 1HGCP2F30AA031252.
The car is missing its front bumper and has a dent on the left-rear quarter panel as well as a torn temporary tag in the rear window. It may also have a transfer of purple paint from a crash. It also has a white bumper sticker that says “Westside City Toys.”
The car’s description is also being shared on message boards along highways.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Kason Thomass or who has seen Jackson or the stolen vehicle is urged to contact the city police department’s Special Victims Bureau at 614-645-4266.
Anyone who sees the child, the suspect or the vehicle should call 911 or the Amber Alert hotline at 1-877-AMBER-OH (1-877-262-3764).
Columbus police on Tuesday released photos of Jackson and the vehicle captured at a gas station in Huber Heights. Jackson reportedly asked a gas station employee for money while driving the stolen car, according to a Facebook post from police.
‘We just want to find the baby’
As of Wednesday afternoon, the last confirmed sighting of Jackson and the vehicle was at the Dayton International Airport on Tuesday morning, where Jackson was seen on surveillance footage abandoning Kyair Thomass.
The child was later found by a good Samaritan who heard him crying, and eventually reunited with his parents. Family representatives said Tuesday the baby was unharmed and healthy, but was left out in the cold for some time.
The twins’ parents Tuesday night joined the search in the Dayton area. The family is offering an unspecified reward for information that could lead to the baby’s return, representatives said.
“Right now, we just want to find the baby,” said Michelle Luster of the missing persons nonprofit Dock Ellis Foundation, speaking on behalf of the family. “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 email@example.com.
Police said there’s currently no indication that Jackson knew the victim or her children.
FOX 8 sister station WCMH reported Jackson pleaded guilty to a charge of child endangerment in 2018, and has been in and out of court in cases relating to custody of her own children.
A recap of the investigation
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant on Tuesday and Deputy Chief Smith Weir have provided updates on the investigation timeline.
Police received a call from the Donatos Pizza along North High Street just before 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, reporting a stolen vehicle with the 5-month-old twins inside.
Their mother had gone inside the store to retrieve a DoorDash order, police said. Employees told police Jackson — who they said is homeless — was inside the store but left when the mother entered. She is believed to have stolen the mother’s car.
Dozens of officers immediately began a search, aided by a police helicopter. Through the night, officers from surrounding agencies and off-duty detectives joined the search. Police also investigated several of Jackson’s former addresses, as well as three known homeless camps.
At about 11:45 p.m., more than two hours after the initial report, a Columbus police sergeant requested the Ohio State Highway Patrol issue an Amber Alert. That request went unfulfilled until about 1:30 a.m., when the alert was sent.
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.”
At some point, the Honda Accord being driven by Jackson was reportedly involved in a crash along Interstate 70 near Huber Heights. The crash was captured on surveillance footage.
Just before 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, police learned Kyair Thomass had been abandoned near the Dayton International Airport.
Bryant in a press conference Tuesday afternoon pleaded with the Jackson, urging her to leave the child in a public place and notify authorities.
“Please return Kason Thomass,” she said. “We thank you for returning Kyair. You’ve already shown us you can do the right thing.
“We’re begging you — please return Kason.”