1 suspect arrested after toddler in stolen vehicle found safe; s - KCTV5

1 suspect arrested after toddler in stolen vehicle found safe; search continues for second suspect

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According to police, here is a picture of one of the suspects. According to police, here is a picture of one of the suspects.
A police officer hugs a missing 3-year-old girl after she was discovered in Leavenworth County. (Chopper5) A police officer hugs a missing 3-year-old girl after she was discovered in Leavenworth County. (Chopper5)
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

One of two suspects who stole a car with a sleeping 3-year-old in the back seat is in custody.

The male suspect was arrested in Leavenworth County on Thursday. Kansas City, KS Police Chief Terry Zeigler said the female suspect has been identified, but police are still searching for her. 

The young girl was eventually rescued at 190th Street and Evans Street in Tonganoxie, KS, just north of the Interstate 70 Kansas Turnpike and south of Highway 40. 

Chopper 5 was overhead as little Amaya ran into the arms of a police officer: 

That moment, captured on camera, is one that calmed her family’s fears.

Her uncle, Carl Hunter said the 3- year-old loves dancing and art and would occasionally come to the house with her sisters. He said once he saw the news, he called her father to see if there was anything he could do to help in the situation.

"I said, ‘They got your daughter.’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ He was pretty upset about it. But like I said, ‘I'm glad everything turned out beautifully, you know, by the grace of God,” Hunter said.

Amaya was taken to the hospital Wednesday night where she was checked out and is now back with her family.

No Amber Alert was issued to help find her. When asked why one wasn't issued, Zeigler said, "I will find out why. Things unfolded pretty fast."

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says they were working with KCK police to issue and Amber Alert but say the child was found before the alert could be issued. "We had just gotten validation from the KBI that they were going to push the button when the news chopper found the girl," Zeigler said.

There are 15 steps before an alert is issued.

Zeigler said it takes time to gather information and go through those steps. At a minimum, had they started the process as soon as they got the call, it would have taken 45 minutes to push the information out. 

The urgent search began at the Valero Gas Station at 7th Street and Reynolds Avenue in KCK. 

Surveillance video captures step by step what happened. A man taking care of the little girl was pumping gas a little after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Eventually, you can see a white utility truck pull up. A man and woman inside begin talking. Those are the two individuals police want to identify. 

The little girl's caretaker went in to the store to get a drink and left the car running to keep it cool and not wake the girl. Soon, the woman from the utility truck goes inside too. She's in there with the girl's caretaker.

Then the man from the truck gestures to her to come out. It would seem he saw his opportunity.

The woman then got into the Ford Escort and drove off.

Here is surveillance video of the female suspect: 

Zeigler said the officers did exactly what he hoped they would do in such a situation.

Zeigler said that officer on the ground do not have to go up the chain of command all the time. He hopes they use their instincts to do what brings about resolutions.

"The command staff made the right calls on this," he said. "We're a department that takes action when things happen. We knew this was a valid 3-year-old little girl that was taken."

"When I got the information, I said,'I'll put it on social media,'" Zeigler said. "I got an immediate response from people."

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call the TIPS Hotline (816) 474-TIPS.

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