An anonymous tip this morning about a stolen pickup parked outside a Fife apartment complex helped officers find a 1-year-old Montana boy who was the subject of an Amber Alert after he was reportedly abducted Saturday night, according to Fife police.
Officers responded about 9 a.m. to the 5700 block of 23rd Street East, where they found and arrested the boy’s parents — a 28-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman — who were reported by Montana authorities as suspects in the abduction of the child from his custodial grandparents’ home and were thought to possibly be headed to Washington.
The child was found unharmed in the pickup, and was taken into protective custody, to be put in the care of Child Protective Services.
Initial reports said that the couple may have been heading to Chehalis.
Fife police Lt. Kevin Farris said he wasn’t immediately sure whether they had ties to the area or why they fled to Washington. The child is a ward of the state of Montana, Farris said.
The boy’s grandparents reported him abducted Saturday night, saying he was taken after his parents forced themselves into their home in the Creston area of Montana, just east of Kalispell, according to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.
Farris said the couple initially left with the child in a vehicle with Washington license plates that was registered to the woman, and somewhere in Montana switched to the pickup that had Montana plates and is owned by the father of an acquaintance of the woman.
The man and the woman were booked into the Pierce County Jail and are expected to face charges in Washington and Montana, police said.
They were being investigated for custodial interference and vehicle theft, according to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.
The News Tribune does not usually name suspects of crimes until they have been formally charged.
Pierce County residents reported receiving an emergency message about the Amber Alert on their cellphones about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, though it wasn’t clear exactly which regions received the text notification.
As of Jan. 1, Amber Alerts can be sent to cellphone users through the national Wireless Emergency Alert system, which also broadcasts alerts from the president and about imminent threats, such as hazardous weather conditions.
The State Patrol is in charge of determining whether to send a wireless Amber Alert in Washington, said Bob Hoever, spokesman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which manages the distribution of Amber Alert information.
He said a key factor in that decision is whether there is brief, specific information, such as the license plate number in today’s message, that will help find the child. The message is limited to 90 characters.
Hoever wasn’t immediately sure if toady was the first time a wireless alert had been used in Washington to help find a missing child.
Questions or concerns about Amber Alert messages received via cellphone should be directed to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.