1 detained, car found in abduction of 3-month old
Detroit — A vehicle was recovered and one person held Monday in connection with an early morning abduction of a 3-month-old girl on Detroit’s east side.
The vehicle was recovered in Harper Woods, said Sgt. Michael Woody of the Detroit Police Department. He said one person was detained; police earlier Monday said they were looking for three suspects. Woody referred questions to the Harper Woods police, who were not immediately available.
Dakota Grimes was found safe Monday after being abducted when her father’s car was stolen early Monday at a convenience store, police said.
The girl was found hours later on a porch on the 9100 block of Lakepointe in Detroit, shortly after an Amber Alert was issued, authorities said.
“There was no evidence of any trauma,” Detroit police Chief James Craig told reporters at the 9th precinct Monday morning. But the girl was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.
The incident took place at 12:54 a.m. on the 16600 block of Harper. Dakota’s father, 30, left her inside the running car when he went in to McDonnell Drugs, a convenience store, according to the Amber Alert.
Dakota’s father didn’t report the girl missing until about 3 a.m., nearly two hours after the car was stolen, Craig said. Michigan State Police got involved an hour later. The FBI also helped.
In a meeting with Dakota’s father at the 9th precinct, Craig said he told the man: “I am angry with you. Why would you leave your daughter in a running car at 1 a.m.?”
No charges were expected and police don’t consider the father a suspect. What was reported earlier as an improper license plate on his white Chevy Impala was just a matter of the man mistakenly giving the wrong number, Craig said.
While Craig said he was happy to see the girl returned, he added: “It’d be better if she’d been dropped off at a police station.”
Had Dakota been dropped off at the home to the left or the right of where she was on the 9150 block of Lakepointe, both vacant, it might have taken much longer for anyone to find her, said Gary Zielinski, 65.
“It’s a miracle they picked the right house,” Zielinski said.
Instead, Zielinski found her at his friend Ray Harper’s home about 7:15 a.m., an early start to their day as contractors.
He almost stumbled over the baby, then knocked on one of the windows of Harper’s home.
“You know there’s a baby on your porch?” Zielinski said.
When Harper, 41, saw the baby, he said, “the fatherhood instinct kicked in,” an instinct honed by having 18 children, ranging from 3 to 23 years old.
At first he thought one of his children dropped off one of their children then tapped on the window as a joke. Then he realized he didn’t know the baby.
The two men took her inside. “She was cold,” Zielinski said. “She was taken at 1 a.m., so there’s no telling how long she was out there.”
Dakota still had her bottle and pacifier.
Within minutes, Harper’s phone and Zielinski’s went off — Amber Alerts. Then they saw a story about the Amber Alert on the TV news.
They called 911, and within minutes “(police) came over here like flies,” Zielinski said. After securing the child and questioning the men, they left. The Amber Alert was canceled.
Watching a TV news report on the case just after 10 a.m, Harper remained protective.
“There she goes,” Harper said to Zielinski. “That’s our baby.”
“Now all they’ve got to do is catch the three guys,” Zielinski said.
Authorities are working to address why there was a delay of several hours between when Dakota was reported missing and when the Amber Alert went out, said Sgt. Sarah Krebs, Amber Alert coordinator for Michigan State Police.
Krebs attributed the delay to “a procedural problem,” owing to an incomplete police report and a bad license plate number, but said alerts for missing children should be issued immediately.
Detroit News Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.