Authorities are seeking public’s help in finding a California couple who are believed to have abducted three children in California, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.
The children, all aged less than 5, were last seen with suspects 27-year-old Joshua Aaron Robertson and 22-year-old Brittany Humphrey, the latter being the sister of the children’s mother, Kimberly Harvill, who was found murdered on the side of a road near Gorman, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Authorities believe that the California couple might have abducted the children before or after the murder, with Lt. Joe Mendoza of L.A. County Sheriff’s Homicide saying that Robertson and Humphrey should be considered armed and dangerous.
“Immediately after the murder or sometime shortly after, it is suspicious that they did not come forward to Law Enforcement and instead fled. Definitely, the children are at risk.”
Mendoza further said that the couple fled with the children — including two girls, 2-year-old Joslynn Watkins and 5-year-old Rylee Watkins, and a boy, 3-year-old Brayden Watkins — on Interstate 40 and drove through Arizona and into New Mexico.
While the motive for the mother’s murder is not yet known, authorities believe that Robertson and Humphrey may be involved in the roadside killing, which took place last week. Reports suggest that Harvill, who was found by a passing motorist, died of multiple gunshot wounds. There was also blunt force trauma to her head. Authorities struggled to identify her initially but unique tattoos on her body, which also spelled the names of her children, helped police positively identify the victim.
“Thankfully, due to the press coming out and putting that out, we were able to identify the victim,” Lt. Mendoza said on Wednesday.
It was around this time that the cops realized that the three children were missing.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Katz said that authorities were considering issuing an amber alert for the kids, but decided against it for the time being because they “wanted to do this a bit more surreptitiously out of concern for the kids.”
“You can surmise that we have exhausted some investigative leads and they’ve not been as profitable as we’d like them to be,” he said, according to ABC News.
The children and their mother panhandled to get by and did not live in one town for long. Most recently, Harvill and her three kids were found living in Fresno, but all their stays were transitory, and they frequently used to move in and out of motels.
“They were known to go from motel to motel,” Lt. Mendoza said.
What the police believe is even more troubling about the episode is the fact that the victim as well the two suspects are all known to have been involved in meth, potentially putting the children of the slain mother at even greater risk.
Cops said that the California couple may be driving in a 1999 Ford Expedition, which could have either paper plates or the California license plate 7BEK024. Different witnesses have given conflicting reports about the car’s color, indicating that it might either be silver or forest green. Moreover, the car may also have a rear sticker that reads “R.I.P. Chad Watkins,” a decal with a six-person stick-figure family, or camouflage duct tape at the base of the car on the outside.
People with any information about the missing kids or the California couple who are expected to have abducted them can notify the local police, or contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500, or provide information via Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.
Lt. Mendoza warned the public to be cautious around the couple, saying nobody must approach them considering their criminal histories and the nature of the present crime.
“Out of precaution, people should not approach them,” he said.
[Image via Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office]