While following up on a burglary Monday, Chattanooga police found missing Indiana teen Shayden Howard.
Howard, 14, was reported missing in Garrett, Indiana, by his parents on May 6, setting off an investigation involving the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to The Journal Gazette.
During the investigation, Indiana authorities learned Howard might be in the company of 36-year-old Larry Taylor, though they were unsure of their whereabouts.
Then on Monday, Chattanooga police found both Howard and Taylor, as well as a third man, 50-year-old Charles Pope, sitting on picnic tables in a park on Crutchfield Street just off Amnicola Highway. They were only a mile away from the police department.
It's not clear how or why the two ended up in Chattanooga. Chattanooga police Officer Jason Clemons said interviews with them suggest they possibly jumped a train.
Police had been looking for them as possible suspects in a restaurant burglary, Clemons said. Surveillance footage showed them lingering behind the building for some time. In the end, the video did not show enough evidence to charge any of the individuals with the burglary, police said.
But police did charge all three individuals with public intoxication after noticing one of them was trying to conceal an alcoholic beverage and recognizing the smell of alcohol on their breath.
Pope hasn't been charged in connection to the alleged kidnapping, and it's not clear what his connection is to Taylor or Howard.
Because of the arrest, though, Howard and Taylor were separated, and police and juvenile court investigators were able to talk to each of them independently.
"It seemed like they had memorized a story with each other," Clemons said, though some details weren't quite adding up.
The two claimed to be father and son, but their accounts about where they lived and how they got to Chattanooga did not match.
Clemons said Howard seemed a bit nervous at first.
"It couldn't be determined if it was the possibility of going to jail or if it was because of the situation with the whole kidnapping," Clemons said. "It'd be hard for me to tell what he was going through, but I can say that when I saw him the day that he was released back to his mom, he was a completely different person — a lot happier."
Taylor was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on Monday and will be extradited to DeKalb County, Indiana.
Clemons said he was thankful that officers were in the right place at the right time.
"God really put us where we were supposed to be in order to really, statistically speaking, cause a miracle to happen," he said.
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