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.
The father of the 3-year-old girl, who Apopka police say was abducted from her front yard Monday morning, is thanking law enforcement officers who helped reunite him with his daughter.
Madeline Mejia was found safe on Interstate 10 in Tallahassee by Florida Highway Patrol troopers hours after state law enforcement issued an Amber Alert.
Madeline and her father, Lester Mejia, were reunited around 6:30 p.m. outside the Apopka Police Department. He was all smiles holding his daughter and thanked authorities for helping find Madeline.
Mejia left his daughter outside their home for only a moment to grab his keys around 6 a.m. but ran back outside when he heard his daughter scream, police said. The toddler was forced into a black Honda sedan with Texas plates before the car left the area, according to Apopka police.
Madeline’s father followed the car for a while until he lost it and had to turn around to call 911 because he left his phone at home, officials said.
Madeline was found on Interstate 10 in Tallahassee by FHP troopers who recognized the vehicle form the Amber Alert. Two suspects were inside the suspect vehicle and taken into custody by mile marker 208 in Leon County, authorities said.
The suspects are being questioned in Tallahassee. Authorities say they will face charges of kidnapping but a lot of questions remain regarding the abduction.
The investigation into the abduction is ongoing.