RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Following an anonymous tip, police rescued a kidnapped 7-month-old girl and arrested her father at a mobile home in North Carolina, nearly two days after he took the infant from her mother at knifepoint in Virginia, authorities said Tuesday.
A sheriff’s deputy entered the mobile home and “immediately grabbed her up and shielded her with great care,” Randolph County Sheriff Robert Graves told reporters hours later.
Emma Grace Kennedy “had a great smile on her face and appeared to be in good shape and certainly a great smile on our deputy’s face as well,” Graves said.
The moment brought an end to the massive search for the girl and her father, Carl Ray Kennedy, a 51-year-old sex offender with a long criminal history. He had painted his gold Suzuki black to try to evade capture, police said.
Emma and her mother, Kristen Murphy, were reunited at a local hospital where the baby was checked out, said Murphy’s sister, Amy Wyatt Metzger.
Emma is “totally fine and healthy. Everything has checked out just fine,” Metzger said.
Kennedy didn’t say much when he was arrested, the sheriff said. “He seemed like somebody who had been on the run, who was tired, I guess,” Graves said.
The rescue and arrest occurred in Randleman, North Carolina, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Danville, Virginia, where Emma was abducted Sunday evening at a gas station, police said.
Virginia State Police had issued an Amber Alert early Monday stating the infant was in “extreme danger.”
Metzger said Kennedy had said things in recent months that alluded to hurting Murphy or Emma, such as, “I’m going to blow up your family’s house” or “If I can’t be with the baby, you can’t either.”
Metzger said Kennedy had been harassing Murphy and her family in person, by phone and on social media since losing custody of the girl a couple months ago.
Murphy and Kennedy had lived together for about a year and a half in Randleman. After they split up, Murphy moved in with her mother in Danville.
Kennedy had met Murphy a couple of years ago at a nursing home, her sister said. She was a certified nursing assistant and he was a patient in poor health, reportedly from a boating accident, Metzger said.
“Carl does not have anywhere to live,” Metzger said. “To the best of our knowledge, he has been floating around at friends’ houses, wherever he can stay. He was evicted in March because he was incarcerated at that time.”
Kennedy was out of jail on a $250,000 bond on a drug distribution charge at the time Emma was kidnapped, police said.
Police said Kennedy kidnapped his daughter from a Kwik Stop gas station. As Kennedy fled with his daughter from Virginia to North Carolina, police said tips poured in about his location.
Capt. Bernie Maness of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office said the anonymous 911 call came in Tuesday afternoon.
“The tip was basically that the victim was there,” he said, referring to the mobile home in Randleman.
Deputy Jimmy Barnes, a SWAT team member, went into the mobile home first, saw Emma and grabbed her. A second officer, Sgt. Ryan McLelland, came in behind and handcuffed Kennedy.
Maness described it as “a picture-perfect takedown. It was text book.”
Kennedy is being held in the Randolph County jail and will face an extradition hearing to Virginia. Danville police Lt. Mike Wallace said Kennedy will face charges of abduction and related counts.
Metzger, Emma’s aunt, said the FBI was with Murphy before law enforcement officers went to the mobile home where Emma and Kennedy were found.
The family didn’t expect this happy outcome. “We were prepared for the worst, honestly,” Metzger said.
Feature photo provided by the Randolph County Sheriff: Randolph County Sheriff Deputy Jimmy Barnes holds 7-month-old Emma Grace Kennedy after her father Carl Ray Kennedy was arrested Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Randleman, N.C.
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