Two North Carolina parents were caught Sunday after kidnapping their own infant son from a social services department, then apparently driving him 2,000 miles to Montana in a stolen minivan, authorities said.
The cross-country search for the boy began after the Randolph County Department of Social Services in North Carolina told deputies on Tuesday that 8-month-old John Eastlack had been taken by his parents and was missing, the sheriff’s office said. The boy had previously been placed in the custody of social services, but the sheriff’s office didn’t say why.
An Amber Alert issued last week said the boy was abducted by his parents, Penny Dianne Worthy and Chad Douglas Eastlack. The sheriff’s office said the 35-year-old father was also wanted on charges of stealing the minivan and a firearm.
Early Sunday in Montana, a Missoula police officer found the boy unharmed with his parents inside a hotel after spotting the stolen minivan in the parking lot, according to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.
“The child is in good health and has been turned over to the local social services agency in Missoula,” the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities were coordinating his return to social service workers in North Carolina.
Chad Eastlack was taken into custody without incident on the warrant related to the stolen vehicle and firearm after the Missoula officer called in backup, said Missoula Police Sgt. Jerry Odlin. He referred questions about what charges Worthy could face to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.
Missoula County jail records show that Chad Eastlack was being held without bond on a fugitive charge Sunday. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday. The jail records didn’t list Worthy, who is 20 years old.
Randolph County Sheriff Robert Graves didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking further comment. A deputy who answered the phone said no one could comment Sunday.
No phone listing could be found for an address that North Carolina authorities gave for Eastlack and Worthy. A message left at another phone listing for Eastlack wasn’t immediately returned.