(WBTV) - US Marshals found an abducted 3-year-old child after tracking the child across three states.
On Dec. 2, the U.S. Marshals Service led Arizona WANTED Violent Offenders Task Force, working in conjunction with deputies in Las Vegas, Nevada and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, arrested Ashley Thomas (29) and Shawn Johnson (45) on the felony charge of abduction of a child from a state agency.
“Child abduction investigations, especially those involving family members can be very confusing and complicated,” said United States Marshal David Gonzales. “Our focus is the health and safety of the child.”
On Nov. 19, 2020, the Flagstaff Police Department requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service District of Arizona-Flagstaff Division with finding a missing 3-year-old child.
Due to an investigation discovering child abuse, Thomas (mother) was ordered to not have contact with the child who was initially placed in the custody of Johnson (grandmother).
Thomas is alleged to have abused the child, resulting in major injuries to include a lacerated liver while in her care.
Officials say it was later discovered that Johnson was allowing Thomas contact with the child and an order was issued by the Coconino County Superior Court to pick up the child and place in the custody of the Department of Child Services.
Thomas and Johnson failed to turn over the child and fled; resulting in warrants being issued for their arrests and a Missing Child Unit Case being opened with the U.S. Marshals Service.
Thomas and Johnson were believed to have fled to the Las Vegas, Nevada area with the child.
A request for assistance was forwarded to U.S. Marshal Deputies in the District of Nevada, to attempt to locate and apprehend Thomas and Johnson, and recover the child.
On Nov. 25, 2020, deputies and officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department found Johnson at her residence, though Thomas and the child were not located at that time.
Johnson was arrested on her outstanding warrant; she refused to provide any details as to the whereabouts of Thomas or the child.
On Nov. 30, 2020, U.S. Marshals Service District of Arizona-Flagstaff Division received information on a possible location for Thomas in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
This information was forwarded to the Western District of Oklahoma.
Around 3 p.m. on Dec. 2,deputies conducted an apprehension and recovery operation at a residence associated with Thomas, where she was located, arrested, and the minor child was safely recovered.
Ashley Thomas and Shawn Johnson were taken to local jails where they await extradition back to Coconino County, AZ.
The missing child was recovered and returned to the protection of the Department of Child Services.