Police have caught the male suspect involved in stealing a car in Kansas City, Kansas, Wednesday while a three-year-old girl slept in the back seat. The female suspect turned herself in around 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 18, according to the Wyandotte County District Attorney.
The male suspect, later identified as Tyler Ryan Letzig, and the female suspect, Karri Anne Reich, face kidnapping, aggravated endangering of a child and theft charges, the Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office announced on Friday.
SERIES OF EVENTS
Responding to the initial reports of a child abduction and stolen vehicle at a KCK gas station, SkyTracker headed to Leavenworth County to track down the location from a cell phone ping of one of the parents' phones. SkyTracker pilot Captain Gregg Bourdon and photographer James Moore scanned the area and noticed an abandoned, silver vehicle matching the description of the car stolen from the Valero at 7th and Riverview.
A quick call back to the station to update the newsroom, and 41 Action News Assignment Editor Steve Kaut alerted law enforcement.
“We saw this oddball, silver car sitting there unattended. The door was open," said Bourdon. "My photographer, James, put the camera on it and put it on the backseat. Sure enough, there was a child in the back seat."
“That’s when I got really excited, and I kind of jumped out of my seat," said Moore. "'That's the girl, that’s the silver Focus, that’s her! Check the license plate.'”
“The sheriff deputy came right under the helicopter and made his way down this road until he could see the child get out of the car,” said Bourdon.
SkyTracker captured the reunion from 2,000 feet in the air.
“It doesn’t happen too often. We have this special ability ... we’re one of the few helicopters in the city. We’re a real news helicopter, and this is what we do. We don’t just do promotional stuff,” said Bourdon.
As a result, a young girl is safe. Emergency crews took her to the hospital for an evaluation before releasing her to her parents.
The female suspect, Reich, can be seen in surveillance video wearing a sleeveless blue top, possibly a dress. She had dirty blonde hair up in a ponytail. The second suspect, who police arrested Thursday, was wearing a bright yellow shirt, possibly for a lawn care or construction company.
A manager inside the convenience store at the gas station said the man who originally parked the car realized it had been stolen a few minutes after being inside.
“He said, 'My car is stolen! I have my kid in the back sleeping,’” explained cashier Ijaz Ahmad. “I felt nervous. He was nervous as well."
— Tom Dempsey (@KCTomDempsey) July 13, 2017
Ahmad told 41 Action News the Letzig and Reich pulled away in the car after purchasing items inside his store. He told us neither seemed suspicious while they shopped.
“They seemed normal,” he explained. “They seemed relaxed. I didn't see something different."
Police arrived at the gas station just two minutes after the initial emergency calls went out, Ahmad said.
“Within minutes, the white female came in and left with that vehicle,” explained Officer Patrick McCallop of the KCK Police Department. “It happened very quickly.”
“It was a busy situation,” explained McCallop. “When you handle a child abduction, it's serious. We wanted to locate that child as soon as we could."
It wasn't immediately clear what delayed or prevented law enforcement from issuing an AMBER Alert in this situation. We've begun reaching out for clarity on the protocol.
Anyone with any information about this incident is encouraged to call KCK police or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.