The grandmother and step-grandfather of two Nebraska children are accused of abducting the young boys so they could teach the kids’ mother a lesson, Topeka’s WIBW-TV reports.
On Monday morning, police in Tekamah, Nebraska issued an Amber Alert for two missing boys — 7-year-old Marco De La Garza and 4-year-old Issac De La Garza. Authorities asked the public to be on the lookout for a white 2009 Ford Expedition with Nebraska plates and advised the vehicle could be in or traveling to bordering Kansas, according to Omaha’s WOWT-TV.
Not long afterwards, the boys were found and recovered, safe and sound, thanks to their mother and a couple of tips to police.
A tipster told authorities that 30-year-old Tanner Leichleiter, the boys’ step-grandfather, had “mentioned Wichita, Kansas.” Meanwhile, police in Wichita received a tip that a citizen recognized the suspect vehicle when the driver stopped to ask directions.
Wichita troopers spotted the vehicle and, after a brief pursuit, took Leichleiter into custody.
The boys are SAFE and the suspect has been apprehended in Kansas.
Will provide more details when possible, but wanted to share the good news immediately.
This AMBER Alert has been cancelled.
— Nebraska State Patrol (@NEStatePatrol) April 20, 2020
“The fact that so many people were able to get the information so fast, it’s hard to believe how well it worked,” said Sgt. Justin Crafton with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
As for the children, they’re safe and sound and have been reunited with their family.
“They appear to be in good shape, good shape physically and mentally,” Crafton said.
The alleged abduction appears to have begun when the boys’ grandmother, whose name has not been released, allegedly turned up at the Tekamah Motel in Tekamah — where several family members were living — and held the mother there against her will. While the grandmother kept the woman at bay, Leichleiter allegedly took the boys with him.
The mother eventually escaped and contacted the police.
The entire thing was apparently a scheme to teach her that she was a bad parent. How police came to this conclusion, or how the couple intended to use the kidnapping to teach a lesson, is unclear as of this writing.
Leichleiter faces several state and federal charges due to the interstate nature of his alleged crime. Authorities intend to extradite him from Kansas back to Nebraska. The boys’ grandmother was taken into custody on charges of obstruction and aiding and abetting.
This is not the first time a crime has been committed against a child in an adult’s attempt to make a point. As USA Today reported at the time, back in 2015 four Missouri individuals allegedly “kidnapped” a boy in an attempt to teach him about “stranger danger.”