PRESCOTT, AZ — Three children have been found safe in Apache Junction eight days after they were forcefully taken from their grandmother's home in Paulden, Arizona, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
The children's parents — Ryan Nicholas Mullin, 36, and Ashlee Lynne Waldie, 32 — were also located with the children and are facing abduction charges, YCSO said.
According to YCSO, the children's grandmother has temporary court-ordered legal custody of the children due to their parents' alleged "drug use and history of neglect," and were currently living with her in Paulden, a small town north of Prescott. The Department of Child Safety (DCS) was also involved.
On Dec. 7, Mullin reportedly called the children's grandmother and said that he and Waldie were on their way to pick the children up and allegedly threatened "he would kill them if they tried getting in the way," according to a YCSO news release.
"When the suspects arrived, the grandmother fearing for her own safety as well as the safety of the children, could only watch as the parents took the children and drove away," a news release said.
On December 15, eight days after they were taken, the children and their parents were located in Apache Junction, which is about two and a half hours southeast of Paulden, YCSO said.
An AMBER Alert was discussed, but was ultimately not issued, a spokesperson for YCSO said. That spokesperson said authorities were able to ascertain the parents' and children's whereabouts and did not want an AMBER Alert to alert the parents and cause them to possibly try and flee.
Authorities worked with the U.S. Marshal's Office Task Force in Flagstaff, YCSO said, but later determined that the children were in the Phoenix area.
Both Mullin and Waldie were booked into the Yavapai County jail under suspicion of abduction of a child from state custody. Mullin was also found to be in possession of a gun and may face additional charges, YCSO said.
The children have since been placed in the custody of DCS, according to YCSO.
In order for law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert, a specific set of criteria needs to be met:
- reasonable belief that an abduction has occurred
- belief that the child or children is/are in "imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death"
- the child or children are 17 or younger
- enough descriptive information to issue an AMBER Alert.