A Virginia woman and her boyfriend were charged Monday with the kidnapping of a 2-year-old boy from a small-town church nursery – a disappearance that sparked a widespread search by the FBI and state and local law enforcement and ended just over 24 hours later with the child’s safe recovery.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Giles County Sheriff Morgan Millirons announced that a first arrest had been made in the abduction of 2-year-old Noah Gabriel Trout. Nancy Renee Fridley, 44, of Clifton Forge, Virginia, is charged with one count of abduction and one count of felony child endangerment.
Her boyfriend, Bobby Lee Taylor, was also arrested and charged with one count of abduction, WFXR Fox reported later Monday evening. Both were booked into Alleghany Regional Jail, as authorities so far have not announced a motive for the kidnapping in nearby Giles County a day earlier.
The boy was abducted around noon Sunday from the nursey at Riverview Baptist Church in Ripplemead, Virginia. He was found safe before 1:45 p.m. ET Monday. Throughout the course of the investigation, a person of interest was identified and law enforcement set up a perimeter around a residence in Alleghany County around midday Monday to conduct surveillance.
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FBI agents and a tactical unit from Virginia State Police saw someone matching the missing child’s description in the area of the home and soon recovered Noah, Millirons said.
“We have been unable to determine a motive for Noah’s abduction and that will continue to be part of this investigation. You’ll be happy to know that emergency medical services arrived on the scene shortly after Noah’s recovery and he seemed fine,” Millirons said at a press conference around 4:30 p.m. ET Monday. “But he will be taken to the local hospital for further evaluation. He has been reunited with his family and we encourage everyone to give them time to process this grueling couple of days.”
The FBI Richmond Field Office sent its Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team, with a component of its Behavioral Analysis Unit, within a few hours of Noah’s disappearance to join the investigation, special agent in charge Stanley Meador said.
“I wanted to say thank you to you, and specifically you, for your coverage of Noah’s abduction,” Meador said, addressing media at the press conference. “It’s been proven time and time again, the faster we can get information out and engage our partners and the community, the better chance we have for an outcome just like we had today. And that’s what we all want.”
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“Thank you to all of you who provided tips and helped keep this case front and center. Because of you, Noah gets to rest peacefully this evening under the watchful eye of his parents,” he added.
Authorities had issued an Amber Alert and released a photo showing a suspect pictured from behind allegedly leading Noah out of the door of the church Sunday. Investigators said the child was last seen wearing a royal blue shirt and an orange jacket. His photo was quickly disseminated on social media.
Riverview Baptist Church issued a statement Monday that the child kidnapped from its campus had been safely returned to his parents, describing the last 24 hours as “a nightmare for our entire church family.” The church thanked law enforcement and praised God for answering their prayers.
“Riverview Baptist Church values the safety and protection of every child,” the statement said, adding that the church had followed policy by fully cooperating with law enforcement. “We are immediately examining ways to make our campus and facilities even more safe [safer] and secure for families wishing to come worship with us. We hope that this criminal act on our campus allows other churches to evaluate their own childcare safety procedures.”
“We believe that transparency, child safety and accountability are essential for successful ministry, and we are fully committed to ministering to your children in a safe and responsible manner.”
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A man identified as Taylor’s brother spoke with WSLS in an exclusive interview at the scene where Fridley was taken into custody. Dennis Leevess Jr. expressed shock over the abduction.
“Come to find out she went and stole this kid from a church. Man, it’s just ridiculous,” he told the news outlet. “I can’t believe she done something like that. I mean, I really can’t.”