The father of the infant twins inside their mother’s car when it was stolen from the Donato’s parking lot in Columbus’ Short North on Monday is calling for the safe return of his second child after the first was found left outside early Tuesday at a Dayton International Airport parking lot.
Lachez Thomas, 23, told The Dispatch that he and other members of five-month-old Kason and Kyair Thomas’ family were searching throughout the day and into Tuesday night in shopping centers and neighborhoods in the Dayton area for signs of Kason, who was still missing after his twin brother, Kyair, was recovered in an airport parking lot.
“It’s indescribable — there’s no words for this,” Thomas said of the anguishing search for his missing son.
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The infant twins were left inside their mother’s car while she went inside Donatos Pizza at 920 N. High St. in Columbus’ Short North neighborhood around 9:45 p.m. Monday to pick up a Door Dash delivery. When she turned around, police said, the car was gone.
In her 911 call, the twins’ mother pleads for the police to locate the person who stole her car with the children inside. As the call progresses, the audio becomes inaudible at times as the mother breaks down crying.
“Someone just stole my car,” she told the 911 operator. “My babies are in there.”
Fonda Thomas, 44, the paternal grandmother of the twins, said the abduction has left members of the family in a state of shock. She said both of the twins were loved, and lit up the room with their “adorable smiles.”
“I’m so tired — I want to go to sleep — but I don’t want to miss a phone call,” Fonda Thomas said. “And I feel like if I fall asleep, that’s not right. So I just feel like I just want to sit and wait, no matter what.”
A statewide Amber Alert was issued around 1:35 a.m. Tuesday, about four hours after the twins were abducted.
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When asked to explain the delay, Columbus police Deputy Chief Smith Weir said at a press conference that authorities were dealing with a unique circumstance where a license plate number wasn’t attached to the request before Ohio State Highway Patrol issued the alert.
Kyair Thomas was found safe early Tuesday morning at a Dayton International Airport parking lot following the statewide Amber Alert. A passerby found the child in a car seat between cars in the airport’s economy parking lot. Despite the cold, the child was checked and determined to be medically okay and returned to the family.
On Tuesday, father Lachez Thomas asked the woman suspected of fleeing with his children to deliver Kason to a safe location.
“She should just drop my child off at a fire station, police station, some safe hospital — somewhere safe,” Thomas said.
Fonda Thomas said Kyair Thomas needs his twin brother.
“(Kason is) loved; he has a family,” Fonda Thomas said. “He’s not yours, he does not belong to you. Give him back to us.”
Police identify suspect in missing person search
Donato store employees told police that a homeless woman, later identified as 24-year-old Nalah T. Jackson, had been hanging around inside the restaurant and left when the mother came inside, Columbus police Chief Elaine Bryant said.
Jackson had early on been identified by police as a “person of interest” in the case, but at a Tuesday afternoon press conference police made clear she was considered the suspect in the abduction of the children.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have joined in the search for the missing children. Officers from the Ohio Highway Patrol, Ohio State University, Grandview and Upper Arlington police department visited more than a dozen addresses formerly associated with Jackson, Bryant said. Three homeless camps were also checked.
Columbus and Dayton police spent Tuesday morning canvassing the area in and around Dayton International Airport after Kyair Thomas was found there.
In a 911 call from the travelers who discovered Kyair Thomas, a baby can be heard crying in the background and the caller says he will take the baby somewhere warm while he waits for police.
Weir said that police are perplexed as to why one child was left there. Linda Hughes, spokesperson for the Dayton International Airport, said it did not appear that Jackson had entered the airport.
Fonda Thomas said that while one child has been safely recovered, she still fears for her other grandchild.
“Yes, we know she dropped one of the kids off safely,” She said. “So are we to assume that she won’t harm the one that she has? What’s her motive?”
Weir also said Tuesday afternoon that authorities are scrutinizing video footage of someone believed to be Jackson that was recovered by Huber Heights police following her visit to a convenience store there where she reportedly asked for money. Police released photos of Jackson from the incident later in the afternoon.
Victim advocacy organization offering free services to family
The Dock Ellis Foundation, a national organization created by the late Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to assist minority families with missing people, worked with the family to establish a 24-hour telephone line for tips and to help produce and distribute fliers, Jasmine Lee, CEO of the foundation, said.
The organization is hoping to work with law enforcement to share information and tips about where Kason might be. Lee said the Thomas twins’ family was focused Tuesday on getting Kason home, but also caring for Kyair.
“They still have a child out there missing, but they have a child that they need to take care of,” Lee said.
Megan Bocook, who is working with the family as a victim advocate, said at a press conference called Tuesday evening that the organization was focusing on a social media push for tips and supporting the family with the goal of getting Kason “back home with mom and dad.”
Bocook, herself the mother of three young children, urged people to be kind to the mother of the twins.
“She’s a person, too,” Bocook said. “They are going through a lot.”
Dispatch reporter Monroe Trombly contributed to this report