Christina Alonzo awoke on her living room couch early Tuesday morning, startled to see that her 2-month-old son, Elijah, wasn’t next to her. She thought a relative might have moved him to another room.
Then, as one of her neighbors said, she became frantic. Elijah and a bottle were missing from the Brooklyn Park apartment.
Hours later, the boy was found safe, and two people were in custody.
Alonzo called police around 6 a.m. Tuesday from the Moonraker complex. Investigators’ interviews with friends and relatives turned up an address in St. Paul where the baby might have been taken. As officers drove up, a woman in the front yard screamed that the infant was in a car leaving the driveway. Police pulled it over and found Elijah safe inside, wearing his onesie adorned with football helmets.
“I’m so glad he is OK,” said his grandmother, Esther Baker. “I have no idea why he was taken.”
Police said a woman staying with Alonzo took Elijah without her consent from the apartment in the 5500 block of Brookdale Drive N. Investigators don’t know why, said Brooklyn Park Deputy Chief Jeff Ankerfelt. The woman was an acquaintance of Alonzo’s, he said.
The woman and the man arrested with her in St. Paul about 3 p.m. were booked into jail on suspicion of kidnapping, Ankerfelt said. Investigators planned to interview them later. A car from the complex was impounded by police.
Elijah was brought to Regions Hospital in St. Paul for a precautionary examination, but Ankerfelt said he appeared to look healthy.
Alonzo, 34, who also has a 3-year-old daughter, last saw Elijah about 1 a.m. She called police after she woke up and couldn’t find her son shortly after 6 a.m., police said. There was no sign of forced entry.
A neighbor said Alonzo was going crazy when she realized Elijah was missing.
Local law enforcement, with assistance from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, blanketed the neighborhood and the large apartment complex. They also received guidance from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Ankerfelt said.
Police set up a mobile command unit in the parking lot of the complex. Officers stopped vehicles and questioned drivers as they came and left.
Kids played on nearby playground equipment as word spread among the residents that police were frantically searching for Elijah.
Robert Cravens, who has lived in the complex for 10 years, said it is fairly safe and quiet. He has seen frequent police visits at several nearby complexes.
Alonzo was immediately notified when police found Elijah. She was reunited with her son at Maple Grove Hospital around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Baker, who came to the department when she learned the news, sobbed as she expressed her relief that Elijah was unharmed. She thanked everyone who helped find him.
“I can’t wait to see him,” she said.
Ankerfelt said they had enough evidence to arrest the man and woman in St. Paul but wouldn’t elaborate. That a bottle was taken showed that the woman put in some thought before allegedly taking the baby, he said.
If officers hadn’t arrived in St. Paul at the very time the man and the woman were driving away, Ankerfelt said, he didn’t know how long it might have taken for the baby to be found.
“We are very fortunate how this turned out,” he said.