Update: Dad of baby found safe after July Amber Alert arrested on child endangerment, drug charges

Harlow Freeman

An Amber Alert potential Parrish kidnapping turned miracle baby-found-safe-and-sound story from July took a new turn over the weekend, as the father and several others are now facing charges over the incident.

West Alabama was on high alert after the Amber Alert went active July 10 when 9-month-old Harlow Freeman and the vehicle she was sitting in vanished after her father, Jo Rilee Freeman, left the car running with Harlow inside while he went inside a friend’s house for what he told police was a few moments.

The next morning after an extensive search by law enforcement and volunteers, baby Harlow was found safe and sound, still snuggled inside her car seat in the car that had somehow rolled down about 80 yards and into a massive patch of kudzu where it could not be seen. She was a little dehydrated but otherwise OK, police reported; in a stroke of luck, one of the car’s windows had been broken in an unrelated incident, meaning she had plenty of fresh airflow overnight.

At the time, there were plenty of questions alongside the flood of relief: How did the car get there? Why was Harlow inside it and not inside with her father?

There were few official answers, but the common theory was the car rolled out of the driveway and into the ravine because the parking brake hadn’t been engaged.

According to a Facebook post by the Parrish Police Department on Sunday, investigators determined Freeman drove to the home and was conducting a drug transaction there.

While Freeman was there, he discovered his car had gone missing. He attempted a short search himself, Parrish Police said, before notifying law enforcement. Investigators recovered a handgun and narcotics from the home.

After the case’s evidence was reviewed by the Walker County District Attorney’s Office, the following warrants were issued:

  • Madison Jo Rilee Freeman, 30, of Jasper: Conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime, endangering the welfare of a child
  • Todney Thomas, 45, of Parrish: Conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime and unlawful possession of a controlled substance
  • Mason Chappel, 19, 0f Parrish: Interfering with governmental operations

Thomas was taken into custody by Parrish Police near his home. After he was taken into custody, investigators found nearly 6 grams of methamphetamine and a bottle of assorted prescription pills that did not belong to him. He was placed in the Walker County Jail on a $100,000 cash bond.

Freeman was taken into custody in Jasper by the Parrish and Cordova police departments and was transferred to the Walker County Jail. He’s scheduled for a bond hearing in the coming days.

Chappell was taken into custody at his home in Parrish and is scheduled for a bond hearing in the coming days.

In the Facebook post, Parrish Police Chief Danny Woodward said alongside the Parrish Police Department, investigators had help from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Categories: Crime, Featured, Local News