Police confirm the 2-month-old boy who went missing overnight from the Moonraker Apartments on Brookdale Drive North in Brooklyn Park, Minn., has been found alive and well in St. Paul and has since been reunited with his family.
Thalia Benson was arrested in connection with the baby's disappearance. Two suspects were initially arrested, but the second suspect has been released. No motive has been revealed by investigators so far.
Investigators said Tuesday a woman in custody is a friend of the mother and had been at the apartment, but the child's mother initially did not suspect her.
According to police, the mother last saw her son sleeping at 1 a.m. Tuesday and reported him missing at 6:10 a.m.
Police found no signs of forced entry to the apartment and said the single mother has no known custody issues.
Police spent the morning canvassing the neighborhood and have been stopping everyone coming in and out of the apartment complex in search of information.
BOY REUNITED WITH FAMILY
At about 8:30 p.m., Elijah Alonzo was reunited with his grandmother, Esther Baker, at the Brooklyn Park Police Station because the boy's mother, Christina Alonzo, is currently under evaluation at a nearby hospital.
"I was just shocked because she just kept saying, 'Elijah's gone! Elijah's gone!" Baker told FOX 9 News.
Baker said she got a panicked phone call from her daughter early Tuesday morning, and neither suspected a trusted friend who she identified as Tae Benson would be the reason her grandson had gone missing.
"She called Tae and asked her, 'Do you have the baby?'" Baker recalled. "She got up there and said, 'No, isn't the baby with you?'"
Baker said Benson was spending the night at her daughter's apartment when Alonzo fell asleep with Elijah on the sofa. When Alonzo woke up at about 6 a.m., she realized he wasn't there and called Benson -- but Baker said the denial went on for hours.
"She sat here all day with us and [saw] our turmoil," Baker said. "She was trying to blame it on somebody else."
Deputy Chief Jeff Ankerfelt added, "This friend essentially acted as though she was trying to help mom locate this baby."
In the end, Baker said Benson's sister, L'Oreal, was the one who knew the story didn't add up and decided to go to St. Paul to see if the boy was there.
"L'Oreal [saw] the baby in the car and said, 'I had to do what was right,'" Baker told FOX 9 News. "She told me she fed the baby and I knew how hard it was for her. It was her sister, but yet, L'Oreal is my daughter's best friend."
Elijah was evaluated at the hospital and is said to be doing fine. With one family relieved, another is heartbroken and searching for the very answers police are still looking for.
"Everybody's innocent until proven guilty, but we're going to be interviewing this woman to find out why this child ended up with you in St. Paul," Ankerfelt said.
Police do not plan to officially identify the two people they have in custody until Wednesday morning, but Ankerfelt confirmed both are known by Christina Alonzo.
WHY NO AMBER ALERT?
Law enforcement must satisfy two criteria when evaluating a non-familial child abduction. Police departments must have both parts of the scenario present before an activation can occur:
1. The AMBER Plan should be activated when a child 17 years of age or younger is abducted and there is reason to believe the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
2. There is information available to disseminate to the general public which could assist with the safe recovery of the victim and/or the apprehension of the suspect.