State Trooper holds abducted infant Samiyah Nichols after finding her in a vehicle on I-57 in extreme northern Jefferson County Friday morning. Submitted photo.
Illinois State Police officers safely located an abducted an eight month old infant on Interstate 57 in Jefferson County just south of the Marion County line early Friday morning. Three occupants of the car from northern Illinois and Indiana face possible charges in connection with the incident.
The infant, identified as Samiyah Nichols, was initially reported as being abducted by three subjects in Memphis, Tennessee at approximately 4:15 Friday morning. Illinois State Police was later contacted by Missouri Highway Patrol who believed the suspects were traveling in a 2005 Ford and may have entered Illinois state lines at approximately 8:00 Friday morning. Illinois State Police officers and investigators immediately saturated Interstate 57 in search of the suspected vehicle.
Intelligence was developed by the ISP Statewide Terrorism Information Center (STIC) suggesting the suspects were traveling in a 2005 Ford 4-door vehicle, owned by a relative. At approximately 9:15 Friday morning, an Illinois State Trooper located the vehicle near the Dix exit, and with the assistance of other agencies, including deputies from the Jefferson County and Marion County Sheriff's Departments, the 2005 Ford was stopped near milepost 106 without incident and the infant was safely recovered unharmed.
The infant was immediately transported to an area hospital for further evaluation. She was later released from an area hospital in good condition and remains in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services.
Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau praised the quick thinking and fast response of the ISP troopers and other agencies involved. "An infant child was placed in harm's way and law enforcement wasted no time in apprehending these dangerous and careless individuals," Grau said.
The three suspects taken into custody are identified as 28-year-old Brandon M. Wright of Homewood, IL; 27-year-old Betty Jo Mitchell of Muncie, IN; and 29-year-old Samuel Nichols of Chicago. Samuel Nichols is believed to be the biological father. Wright and Mitchell have been released and Nichols remains in custody on an unrelated warrant. Formal charges are pending for all three subjects.
The collaborative effort that lead to the arrest of the three subjects and safe recovery of the child included officers from ISP Zone 7, District 12, District 13, District 22, Air Operations, STIC; Illinois Secretary of State Police; Jefferson County Sheriff's Department; Marion County Sheriff's Department; Missouri Highway Patrol; Memphis, Tennessee Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Squad cars from multiple departments along I-57 near the Marion-Jefferson County Line where kidnapped infant was recovered unharmed. Submitted photo.