Missing nine-month-old baby found in bush as police investigate
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Featured Image Credit: Facebook/ Bethany Smith/ Police handout
A baby originally thought to have been kidnapped has since been found and returned to her family.
On Monday night (10 July), an Amber alert was issued by Alabama police after authorities received a phone call at approximately 6:50pm from a man saying he believed his car had been stolen and nine-month-old daughter kidnapped.
Police received 'multiple reports' the vehicle was seen 'leaving the area at a high rate of speed'.
The police department and multiple agencies immediately conducted searches across the county and city, searching the nearby area 'several times' to try and find baby Harlow Freeman.
Harlow's family took to social media in desperation to find the nine-month-old.
Under the impression she had been kidnapped, mother Bethany Smith took to Facebook pleading for her safe return.
She wrote: "All I ask is for my baby back. Y’all can keep the car!
"[...] If you know where my baby is or how I can get to her. I will meet you with no questions asked. Please just give me back my baby."
The family also offered a $5,000 (£3,800) reward.
Thankfully, the father's car was discovered on Tuesday morning (11 July) during authorities' fourth search of the area.
It was located in an area of kudzu - dense vines - which had concealed it from sight during earlier searches.
Chief Danny Woodard from the Parish Police Department, reflected, as per AL.com : "Daylight was our friend on this one."
Baby Harlow Freeman - who was missing for over 12 hours - was discovered still buckled into her car seat according to ABC 33/40 News, and located not far from where she was last seen at an address on Crest Avenue in Parrish, Alabama.
The baby was medically evaluated at the scene and later transported to hospital as a 'safety precaution'. She was reviewed as being dehydrated but was able to get air as one of the car's windows was broken from 'a previous incident,' according to police.
The investigation is active and ongoing, however it's no longer believed the nine-month-old was likely the victim of a kidnapping.
Another theory is the father failed to put his brake on properly and the car rolled down the street.
Chief Woodard told ABC 33/40 News: "Anything is possible at this time. Every lead and everything is being evaluated."
However, he noted it's not believed there is any danger to anyone in the community, with no charges having been filed and no one in custody.
Chief Woodard resolved: "It was not random how the vehicle was left. It's an active investigation. [But] There is no danger to the community."