Three-year-old Madeline Mejia was back in her father’s arms Monday night after she was abducted from their Florida home earlier in the day, authorities said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced in a statement just before noon on Monday that Madeline was safely rescued by authorities. It took only hours for them to find the car that had taken her on a highway in Tallahassee, more than 200 miles from her home in Apopka.
Lester Mejia had loaded the toddler into his car in their driveway around 6 a.m. Monday when he ran into the house to grab his keys, he told CNN affiliate WFTV.
He heard her scream and ran outside to see his daughter being taken away in a black Honda with Texas plates, the outlet reported.
Mejia followed the car, the outlet reported, but did not have his cellphone and had to return home to call the police.
An Amber Alert was issued and FDLE agents searched for the car from the air, the agency said. Agents spotted the car in Tallahassee and sent authorities on the ground after it. FDLE agents and Florida Highway Patrol troopers in the area stopped the vehicle and were able to rescue the child.
Lt. Kim Montes told WFTV the little girl “was scared” and that the situation was “very traumatic.” Four suspects — three men and one woman — were taken into custody, troopers told the station.
“It was anguish not knowing what was happening to my daughter,” Mejia said. “I’m happy for my baby coming back.”