APOPKA, Fla. – Editor’s note: Authorities originally said Madeline Mejia was forcefully taken from her home on Feb. 10. Police said they later learned that account was not true and she was taken by her mother who did not have custody of the child. For the latest on this story, click here.
A 3-year-old girl who was at the center of an Amber Alert after being abducted outside her Apopka home has been located in Tallahassee, according to police.
Apopka police said Madeline Mejia was found on Interstate 10 in Tallahassee by law enforcement officials who saturated the area after the Amber Alert was issued Monday morning. Four people inside the suspect vehicle were taken into custody by mile marker 208 in Leon County, authorities said.
The moment our agents recovered Madeline Mejia this morning!— FDLE (@fdlepio) February 10, 2020
Thanks to our law enforcement partners and everyone else who helped to swiftly and successfully resolve this AMBER Alert! #FLAMBERhttps://t.co/2LpvqQviRT pic.twitter.com/52KEX19QzJ
According to police, Madeline was abducted shortly after 6 a.m. Monday from outside her home in the 600 block of East Orange Street.
AMBER ALERT UPDATE | Police give update on Amber Alert.
CHILD LOCATED | Police give update on Amber Alert. http://bit.ly/38h4hXIPosted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Monday, February 10, 2020
The girl’s father left her outside for a moment while he went inside to grab the keys to his vehicle when he heard her screaming and came back outside to find a man putting her inside a black two-door Honda Accord before taking off, police said.
Madeline’s father followed the car for a while until he lost it and had to turn around to call 911 since he left his phone at home, officials said.
[PHOTO BELOW: Suspect vehicle in Apopka Amber Alert]
“For whatever reason, those involved decided this morning that they were going to take Madeline. I don’t think we can judge the father for his actions. I’m sure he regrets his mistake and I’m sure every night, every morning he walks out from now on he’s gonna have his keys and his phone on him," Apopka police said.
Police said Madeline was safe and in the care of law enforcement officials who will bring her back to Orange County.
Details on the man suspected of grabbing the girl and the others found inside the vehicle when Madeline was located have not been released.
The Amber Alert was officially canceled a short time after she was found.
Madeline and her father were reunited around 6 p.m. at the Apopka Police Department.
No other details were immediately available.