By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Rhonda Marie Matthews
Heather Stone Mitton
ST. LOUIS, MO (KCTV) -
Authorities say an ailing 5-year-old boy has been located in a Chicago suburb, and the boy is doing fine after he was checked out an a hospital.
Porter Stone is next in line for a heart transplant.
The boy's mother, Tiffany Stone, was scheduled to fly from St. Louis to Chicago to be reunited with her son late Wednesday night. They are expected to return to the Kansas City area Thursday afternoon.
St. Louis police say Porter Stone was taken from St. Louis Children's Hospital at 4:05 p.m. Tuesday by his father, Jeffrey Stone, 33, of Grand Prairie, TX. Police issued arrest warrants Wednesday for the boy's father and paternal grandmother.
The department said Wednesday it had issued felony warrants for kidnapping, interfering with custody and endangering the welfare of a child against Jeffrey Stone and his mother, Rhonda Marie Matthews, 59.
Prosecutors also charged Heather Minton, the boy's aunt who was at the Baymont Motel with them, with kidnapping, interfering with custody and endangering the welfare of a child.
Minton's 4-year-old daughter was also in the motel and she was taken into protective custody. Police say Mitton had rented a van used to abduct the boy.
The St. Louis prosecutor filed three felony charges against each of the three adults. The prosecutor said the three knowingly kidnapped the boy against a court order and put the boy at "substantial risk to the life and body and health" by leaving without all of his prescriptions and needed medical equipment.
Each is being held on a $1 million cash-only bond while awaiting extradition proceedings.
Porter was found by Illinois State Police who tracked him by his father's cell phone signal. Heather Stone Mitton had used her Facebook account to post on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's website in the hours before her arrest.
According to court documents, Jeffrey Stone had called and texted his estranged wife, Tiffany Stone, repeatedly "taunting her with the fact that he has (Porter), will not let her speak to (Porter) or tell her where they are at, and calling her derogatory names."
Police say the four were located just before 4 a.m. Wednesday near Alsip, IL. Police found the rental car in the motel parking lot and used surveillance video to confirm that Jeffrey Stone had checked in.
Relatives spoke to KCTV5 and said they were elated to get the telephone calls alerting them that Porter had been located.
"Fantastic news that we finally heard. It was nightmare since 4 p.m. yesterday when we found out that Jeff had taken him. We didn't know where he was going, we didn't know how irrational he was at that point, what could happen, so we're just glad to have him back," said Jessica Chavez, Porter's soon-to-be aunt.
Porter was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn just outside of Chicago.
Tiffany Stone said she was anxious to get her son back.
"When I figured out his Dad had taken him, I just panicked. It was surreal," she said. "I was determined to get my son back and I called 911."
She expects to sob when she gets her son back into her arms.
"I'll just give him a big hug and get him out of that hospital and get home as fast as we can," Tiffany Stone told KCTV5 Wednesday evening.
While Porter is doing OK, he did see some complications because of his ordeal.
"His lungs were filling up with fluid, his condition had worsened," Chavez said.
The family says Porter was not at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City originally because that hospital does not perform transplants.
An Amber Alert was issued Tuesday afternoon for the St. Louis area, but a few hours later it was broadened to include all of Missouri.
The boy had been discharged from the hospital just before he disappeared. Family members said Jeffrey Stone had taken the boy to the pharmacy to check on his prescriptions. The boy was discharged so he could be monitored by Kansas City area doctors, allowing him to be closer to home, family members said Tuesday night.
KCTV5's Stephen Mayer traveled to St. Joseph on Tuesday night where he interviewed frantic family members. They pleaded with Jeffrey Stone to return his son safely, saying they feared Porter was not getting needed medical attention.
"I know you care about your children, care about Porter, but you are not equipped to take care of him," Matt Fife, Porter's maternal grandfather, said. "He is in dire need of his medication. We all pray you will do the right thing and get him back to the hospital where he can be taken care of."
St. Louis police said Matthews likely drove her son and grandson away from the St. Louis hospital.
"The father called the child's mother, who was also at the hospital, stating that he was leaving with the child," according to a news release from St. Louis police. "The child is in need of medical treatment, as he is next in line to receive a heart transplant."
The boy had a backpack with medical equipment and was hooked up to an IV machine with a 48-hour supply. Doctors feared what would have happened to the boy if he didn't get the required dose of medicine to treat his heart condition. He was diagnosed recently with cardiomyopathy, which is a condition where his heart muscles thicken for an unknown reason.
The boy had flown earlier this week from Kansas City to St. Louis to get treatment at Children's Hospital where he has been seen regularly.
Now that he has been found safe, his family said it's back to waiting for a call about a transplant.
"He'll just be basically doing the same thing we'd planned on before all of this mess happened - coming back here to wait for the phone call saying ‘your heart's ready, Porter, come get it,'" said Chavez.
His grandparents, other family members and friends waited Tuesday night for word. They kept a close eye on their phones and watched news reports. Relatives said Tiffany Stone and Jeffrey Stone were getting a divorce, and that Jeffrey Stone was estranged from the family. He wasn't part of his son's everyday life.
A Texas judge had granted Tiffany Stone sole legal custody in December.
Heather Stone Mitton had posted on the St. Louis newspaper's website comments critical of Tiffany Stone's parenting skills. She said her brother planned to take Porter to an out-of-state hospital by 1 p.m. Wednesday. She said her nephew had his medicine and was in no danger.
Tiffany Stone's family said Jeffrey Stone snapped several days ago when he wasn't allowed to ride on a jet taking him to St. Louis. The hospital jet had a 200-pound weight limit and both parents exceeded that, Chavez said.
"That's really the first sign that things started going downhill with Jeff. He was really in a rage that he could not ride on that plane and that he would have to drive to St. Louis," Chavez said.
She said it was heart breaking that Porter saw police storm in and put his father in handcuffs, but the family is grateful that the ordeal turned out OK. They also hope that prosecutors are successful in getting a conviction and a stiff sentence.
Relatives say cell phone records let police get Jeffrey Stone in their sights and stay close until the arrest was made.
Legislation is pending in the Missouri General Assembly to make it easier for police to access cell phone records of people lost or suspects on the run in emergency situations like Porter's. Police now must get cell phone providers to agree to hand over the information, creating lengthy delays at times.
Supporters say the bill could save someone's life by cutting through red tape.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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