NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A local family is breathing a huge sigh of relief after 3-month-old Jiraiya Cherry was found safe Thursday night.
The infant was reported missing Thursday morning in Newport News, Virginia. Police say they located him at an apartment complex just outside Richmond.
Police arrested and charged 20-year-old Tykirah Reid, of Chesterfield late Thursday night in connection with this investigation. She was arraigned in Chesterfield General Court Friday morning.
Newport News police said 3-month-old Jiraiya Cherry was last seen around 9 a.m. Thursday in the 13300 block of Preakness Drive. Officers were called to the address around 10:20 a.m. after his family reported him missing, police said.
Authorities said they believed the baby was abducted by an “unknown babysitter.”
Jiraiya was located in Chesterfield — more than an hour away from where he was taken — at 6:43 p.m., police said. Chesterfield officials told WAVY sister station WRIC that the suspect vehicle, a silver sedan, was found near Heritage Pointe Apartment complex on Goolsby Avenue.
Chesterfield police said they received information Thursday that Jiraiya could be located in Chesterfield. Officers were patrolling and doing checks in apartment complexes when they saw the suspect vehicle on Goolsby Avenue.
More officers responded to the apartment complex, and authorities identified which apartment was associated with the vehicle.
Police say Reid exited the apartment with the child in her arms, but once she saw police, she attempted to run back inside.
She was then arrested. Reid is being held in the Chesterfield County Jail without bond.
The child was transported to a local hospital for treatment and observation and was expected to be reunited with family a short time after.
Reid has been charged in Chesterfield with abduction, child neglect, obstruction of justice, and petit larceny, Chesterfield authorities said.
Newport News police have not released information on any charges Reid could face in their jurisdiction.
“The individual who had him is in custody, and now we’re gonna piece together why she had him and why he wasn’t with his family,” Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said.
WAVY News 10’s Andy Fox spoke to the grandmother and great-grandmother of Jiraiya on Friday, who said this was the first day the babysitter watched him. They said they found Reid in an online babysitter group. The family members’ account is that the baby’s uncle was at the home, but left to go to another room so the babysitter could spend some time with Jiraiya. When the uncle returned, the babysitter and the baby were gone.
TEAM COVERAGE: WAVY sister station WRIC’s Ben Dennis reports from the scene in Chesterfield where the missing 3-month-old was found Thursday night.
Drew said around 7:15 p.m. that there was still a “lot to go” in the Newport News police investigation. He said he didn’t want to disclose too much information in an effort to ensure the case moving forward isn’t compromised.
“We got a lot of tips and a lot of phone calls,” Drew said.
Medics evaluated the child after he was found, Drew said. A family member said first responders brought Jiraiya to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond for further evaluation.
Drew said many of the department members were celebrating following the good news.
“That beautiful 3-month-old little boy is safe,” Drew said.
Jiraiya’s grandmother, Lashawnna Hill, wanted everyone to know the family is grateful. She told WAVY News 10 it was a hard, long day for their family.
“I want to thank everybody for the prayers that sent out, the people who helped look. The people who were sharing his pictures, just anybody who did anything to help us find him, we greatly appreciate. It was a team effort,” she said.
BELOW: Police Chief Steve Drew announces Jiraiya Cherry has been found safe.
Virginia State Police and the Virginia Missing Children Clearinghouse issued an Amber Alert for the baby just before 5 p.m. Thursday.
The unknown babysitter was described as being about 24 years old and speaking with a “slight” southern accent. Police said the woman and baby might have been driving in a four-door silver sedan with Virginia plates.
Drew held a news conference around 5:45 p.m. Thursday about the missing child, about an hour before he was found safe.
He said “strong leads” in the investigation had just developed before he started the press conference, but declined to disclose what they were until he verified the information.
However, at that time, Drew was confident they would find the missing child.
“I look forward to seeing him soon,” Drew said.
During the initial press conference, Drew said officers didn’t have the name of the woman who took the child, although they believed — based on information they have so far — that the woman is a babysitter of some sort.
BELOW: Watch the full Newport News police press conference held at 5:45 p.m. Thursday (while Jiraiya was still missing)
During the preliminary investigation, police contacted local, state and federal law enforcement. They also have conducted a K9 search, canvassed the area around where Jiraiya went missing, and interviewed family members and people in the community. Officers also obtained a search warrant for the residence where Jiraiya had been. The search warrant “isn’t implicating anyone,” he said, but was meant to cover all aspects of the missing child investigation.
Drew said the mother was still at police headquarters speaking with investigators as of the 5:45 p.m. press conference.
As far as the Amber Alert taking about seven hours to be released, Drew said there is five-item list of criteria police must meet before an Amber Alert is issued. If all five items aren’t verified, an alert will not be sent out.
According to the Virginia State Police website, that criteria is:
- The abducted child must be 17 years of age or younger or is currently enrolled in a secondary school in the Commonwealth, regardless of age, and the law enforcement agency believes the child has been abducted (unwillingly taken from their environment without permission from the child’s parent or legal guardian).
- The law enforcement agency believes the missing child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.
- A law enforcement investigation has taken place that verified the abduction or eliminated alternative explanations.
- Sufficient information is available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the child, suspect, and/or the suspect’s vehicle.
- The Child must be entered into the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) missing person files as soon as practical.
Drew said two criteria couldn’t be verified at first: the law enforcement agency believes the missing child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death, and the law enforcement investigation has taken place that verified the abduction or eliminated alternative explanations.
He said Newport News police had reached out to Virginia State Police Thursday morning with information for an Amber Alert, but state police needed more verified information before issuing the alert.
“There’s been a lot of questions and I certainly understand it,” Drew said about the delay in issuing the alert.
This is the second time this week that an Amber Alert was issued for a missing baby in Hampton Roads. The first alert was issued Wednesday after a baby girl was left unattended in a vehicle that was stolen from a Wawa in Chesapeake. That child was later found safe and still in her car seat at an apartment complex in Newport News.
Police are still investigating the abduction and ask anyone with information to contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251, the Newport News Police Department at 757-247-2500 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660 or through the P3 tips app.