LAKELAND, Fla. – A missing 4-year-old central Florida girl was recovered in Tennessee on Monday, and the man who took her is in custody, authorities said.
Rebecca Lewis and West Wild Hogs, 31, were located in Memphis, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said on its Twitter page.
Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said police received a call from the Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis at 12:57 p.m. A security official at the hospital told police that an employee recognized the man and the girl mentioned in the Amber Alert out of Florida, Rudolph said.
When police pulled up to the hospital, they saw the car mentioned in the Amber Alert pulling out of the parking garage, Rudolph said. Officers stopped the car in the parking lot and found the man and the girl inside.
The man was detained, and the girl was recovered. Neither had apparent injuries.
“She seemed to be ok,” Rudolph said.
Police did not know why the man and girl were at the hospital. Rudolph referred questions on possible charges to the FBI.
Polk County, Florida, sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference Monday that Hogs took Rebecca Lewis on Saturday. They were previously spotted on surveillance video footage at a convenience store in Nashville early Monday morning.
Earlier, Judd pleaded with the public to help search for the girl.
“I’m not above a bunch of good old’ boys grabbing that 4-year-old girl,” he said.
Hogs is a friend of Rebecca’s family but had not seen the family in more than two years. He was asked to leave the family’s home more than two years ago after pulling a gun on the family.
A park ranger reported seeing a child matching the description of Rebecca in the area of Cove Lake State Park sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. Sunday. An Amber Alert was issued. The ranger didn’t recognize Hogs until hours later, after a missing person’s alert was issued. By then Hogs was gone.
Judd appeared upset with Tennessee law enforcement for refusing his office’s request over the weekend to issue an Amber Alert. Still, he praised Tennessee authorities and others, including the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for their assistance in tracking Hogs’ movements.
By the time Rebecca was recovered, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky had issued Amber Alerts for the girl.
Hogs, who changed his name from Matthew Clark Pybus, was a friend of Rebecca’s family and once lived with the girl and her relatives — but hadn’t seen the girl in several years, according to Judd. Relatives said Hogs had shown signs of depression and bipolar disorder.
Several agencies were looking for him on kidnapping charges. He drove off with the child in a car he stole from his mother in Alabama, which is where he was originally from, Judd said.