DOTHAN, Ala. — A tip from a woman in Cincinnati led federal agents to a kidnapped girl from Alabama and the arrest of the mother and stepfather accused of abducting her, police said Saturday.
The missing teenager, 15-year-old Ailene Mariz Lander, was recovered early Saturday and placed in protective custody along with five of her siblings, Dothan police Sgt. Doug McGill told WHNT-TV.
The teen’s stepfather, Charles Dean Partin, has been arrested on federal kidnapping charges, while her mother, Julie Ann Bethke, faces state charges in Alabama. It was not immediately clear whether the couple had defense attorneys.
Days before the 15-year-old disappeared, the stepfather wrote on his Facebook page that the state had taken custody of her, and that he loved and missed her.
Investigators said Lander was abducted Monday after she was taken to a doctor’s appointment at Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan by an employee with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Law enforcement officials across the country had been searching for the girl ever since.
“Investigators got tips the whole time from common citizens, and it was amazing to see the cooperation from average joes to the troopers in Texas,” McGill said.
A minister in a small East Texas town reported seeing the family on Thursday. A clergyman told authorities that Partin came into the church seeking fuel money. He drove off in a minivan with a woman and six children.
Authorities finally caught up with the family in Ohio. McGill said a Cincinnati woman let the family into her home Friday night because they needed a place to stay. The woman became suspicious and eventually called law enforcement.
Federal agents went to the house with a SWAT team and arrested the adults without incident, McGill said.
An FBI spokesman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.