Police describe investigation leading to abducted child
by Jack Latta
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. A Missing Terre Haute boy is home with his mother, after being located in Pikeville by Kentucky State Police last week, following a multi-state manhunt.
John Johnson-Christian, also known as John-John, had last been seen by his mother, Jessica Johnson, on Tuesday, July 26. It wasnt until three days later that police safely recovered the 4-year-old child.
Det. James Richardson, with the Terre Haute Police Department says, Im glad the kids at home! That was first and foremost, just to get the kid home safely to his mom.
Investigators say Tuesday morning Nicholas Runyon and April Bell picked up John-John, supposedly to take him to a birthday party. According to police, the pair lied about the party and instead took off with John-John, heading east. Richardson says police were able to track the couple, through a bank card stolen from Bells mother.
Every time they attempted to or made a transaction, obviously we received information on the location, said Richardson.
Police recorded ATM transactions from Indianapolis to Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and finally Pikeville, where Kentucky State Police located the two and John-John at the Brookshire Inn.
According to Kentucky State Police, KSP Post 9 and other local police received information that a child abducted may be traveling through the district.
Officers were told to be on the lookout for a 1998 white Dodge Caravan with Indiana license plates.
According to KSP, Sgt. Keith Justice of KSP division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement located a vehicle that matched the description given while patrolling through the parking lot of the Brookshire Hotel. Capt. Todd Kidd and Lt. Henry Banks responded to the location.
KSP officials say that officers located the abducted 4-year-old alive. Officers also located the the alleged perpetrators, Nicholas Runyon, 24, and April Bell, 28, both of Indiana.
According to court documents, Runyon and Bell each left behind letters to family members. In one letter, Runyon claims that the abducted child is actually his son, and that he has to save his son. In another peculiar twist, court documents point to a letter from Bell to her mother and father, in which she attempts to give them custody of her own child.
Keep him safe, dont let his dad take him from you, says Bell in the letter, adding, Kiss and hug him every night for me. Here is a letter giving all my rights to you.
As of last Friday, both Runyon and Bell were still being held in the Pike County Detention Center. Federal authorities have filed documents in U.S. District Court, in Terre Haute, stating their intent to charge each with a single count of kidnapping.
Richardson says it took efforts from the FBI and law enforcement agencies in all those states to get the job done. But without the National Center for Missing and Abducted Children, Richardson says they might never have found John-John.
They played a huge role in locating these people and getting the child home safely. Its the best outcome we could have had without it happening at all, said Richardson.
Both Runyon and Bell could face 20 years to life in prison if ultimately charged with and convicted of kidnapping.
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