HENDERSON, Texas — Early Wednesday morning, the Henderson Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for 2-year-old Ariel Smith.
The alert was canceled several hours later after the toddler was brought to the Henderson Police station by the alleged suspect and his family.
"Around 10:30 p.m., we got a possible abduction, kidnapping type call," Lt. Brian Bathke of the Henderson Police Department said. "It progressed from there after they spoke with the mother and some of the people on scene. Around 2 a.m., it turned into an AMBER Alert for a missing 2-year-old female. There was some welfare concerns for the 2-year-old."
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According to police, Ariel's mother claimed the toddler's father, 41-year-old LaMarcus Smith, took the child from her home without permission Tuesday night. She then called police and reported the alleged abduction.
"Just shortly ago, the child was brought here to the police department completely safe and sound," Lt. Bathke said. "Initially, every call is valid. You have to treat them with the upmost validity."
LaMarcus Smith, along with family members, brought the toddler to the police station to "clear his name."
"We don't have anything to hide from the Henderson Police Department," LaMarcus Smith's brother Recardo said.
Recardo says the entire situation was a big misunderstanding.
"My brother was having problems with his baby's mother," Recardo said. "She called and said that my brother had kidnapped the baby, which was false accusations, because my brother has had the baby since childbirth."
He says his brother would never put Ariel in danger.
"I just think they've brought shame to my family's name behind all this foolishness without getting enough information," Recardo explained.
Due to the turn of events, several agencies including the District Attorney's Office and Child Protective Services have joined the investigation.
As of yet, no charges have been filed.
"Right now, what I think they'll do is just kind of back up and start with the initial call and go piece by piece, section by section and just make sure they've got everybody's story and every piece of this correct," Bathke said.
The below represents AMBER Alert criteria for the state's network:
- Is this child 17 years of age or younger, whose whereabouts are unknown, and whose disappearance law enforcement has determined to be unwilling which poses a credible threat to the child's safety and health; and if abducted by a parent or legal guardian, was the abduction in the course of an attempted murder or murder?
- Is this child 13 years of age or younger, who was taken (willingly or unwillingly) without permission from the care and custody of a parent or legal guardian by: A) Someone unrelated and more than three years older or B) Another parent or legal guardian who attempted or committed murder at the time of the abduction?
- Is this child in immediate danger of sexual assault, death or serious bodily injury?
- Has a preliminary investigation verified the abduction and eliminated alternative explanations for the child's disappearance?
- Is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public to help locate the child, a suspect, or the vehicle used in the abduction?
Recardo Smith says this situation did not meet this criteria.
His family wishes local authorities would have investigated more before issuing the AMBER Alert.
"He's a great dad," Recardo said. "He has his faults, but he takes care of his baby, and where he falls short, me and my mom help out. Ariel's always been well taken care of and all this other is just nonsense. We just need to pursue full-custody of Ariel and just go from there."