Gila River Police issue Amber Alert for missing 2 year-old boy - KMSP-TV

Alleged kidnapper arrested after 2-year-old boy found in van

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Suspect: Anna Marie Johnson Suspect: Anna Marie Johnson
Eric Smith Jr. Eric Smith Jr.
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Authorities have arrested a 19-year-old babysitter who allegedly took a 2-year-old boy from his parents' home in Coolidge.

An Amber Alert was initiated late on Tuesday night. The search led police to the Gila River Indian Community where early Wednesday morning, the child was found safe.

"I just started crying. I just laughed because that's my bundle of joy, that's my junior," said the boy's father, Eric Smith.

Overcome by emotion, Smith headed to a nearby hospital from a police command post moments after he was reunited with his son, Eric Warrior Smith, Jr. -- "Beanie" as they call him. The toddler was allegedly abducted by 19-year-old Anna Marie Johnson on Tuesday.

"The father actually flagged down a Gila River police officer who was conducting routine patrol when he didn't locate the vehicle in any of the parks," said Detective Robert Hawks.

GPD immediately launched an elaborate multi-agency search, issuing an Amber Alert shortly after midnight.  

Johnson was last seen in a light blue 2006 Dodge Caravan.

A police helicopter spotted the abandoned mini-van around 5 a.m. Officers surrounded the vehicle and kicked a window out.

"It was 51st Avenue and Bunn.. in the Gila River Indian Community approximately 150 yards west of that intersection, the child was alone inside," said Hawks.

Reports of the van traveling at about 80 miles per hour on 51st Avenue towards Phoenix started coming in Tuesday night around 7 p.m., leading police to search the area.

"[Johnson] was trying to get back into school, she was also was in a rocky relationship in the past and we were just trying to give her the boost. [She was] getting her GED, going to job corp, making a positive change in her life, but what came about in her doing this, we don't know," said Smith.

Smith says the family took in his wife's cousin to help her get back on her feet.  They're grateful Beanie is safe.

Johnson, the boy's babysitter, was found after dozens of tips led authorities to a family member's home in Phoenix on Thursday night.

According to authorities, Johnson was cooperative, went in for an interview and was arrested.

She faces tribal charges of kidnapping and theft of a means of transportation; additional tribal charges are pending. The case will also be submitted to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which could lead to charges in U.S. federal court.

Investigators are still trying to figure out why Johnson allegedly abducted the boy.

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