An Amber Alert for a 2-year-old girl abducted from Peoria Monday morning has been canceled after the girl was found safe several hours later.
According to Peoria police, Khaleesi Morales was taken by her non-custodial father, 32-year-old Luis Jesus Morales, around 6 a.m. from a residence near Lake Pleasant and Beardsley roads.
According to police paperwork, Luis had been living with the family since February despite an Order of Protection against the victim, his two other children and their mother.
On Sunday night, the child’s mother contacted police wanting him out of their home and Luis was found with the victim at a Walmart store. According to officials, he was arrested and booked into jail by Peoria police after violating that Order of Protection. He was released at 5:14 a.m. on Monday and told not to have contact with the victim or return to the home.
Police said Luis went to the child's Peoria home Monday morning, opened a window, broke the screen out, stepped on his 11-year-old son's hand and assaulted the mother before taking Khaleesi. The 11-year-old and 7-year-old daughter in the home confirmed the incident to police. The girl also told police Luis mentioned kidnapping Khaleesi the day before.
Police say he stole the mother's vehicle, took her cell phone and left his phone at the home. An Amber Alert was issued around 8 a.m. Monday for Khaleesi.
Around 1 p.m., police said the Peoria SWAT team was able to locate the girl and Luis at a smoke shop near 99th Avenue and Beardsley Road, just a short distance from where the toddler was abducted.
Khaleesi was "safe and unharmed" and was asking for her mother. Officials say she was sleeping in the back of the store after the pair “ran errands and then hung out at the smoke shop like they would have any other day”. Luis said he had no intention of keeping the child from the mother, according to paperwork. Luis told police he didn’t realize an Amber Alert had been issued until family and friends started contacting him.
Luis also reportedly told police that he was allowed to have access to enter the apartment, take the child and vehicle, however the child’s mother said she never gave permission for any of his actions.
Luis was taken into custody without incident and Khaleesi was reunited with her mother at the Peoria Police Department Monday afternoon.
Luis is being charged with kidnapping, burglary, aggravated assault, violation of a court order and auto theft.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says violating an order of protection is a misdemeanor. Even though those cases rarely go to his office for prosecution. Montgomery said Morales’ case raises some on-going concerns for him.
“I think with what we’re seeing with a number of recent releases and then subsequent violent conduct, either with officer-involved shootings or in this particular circumstance, we need to be paying much more attention and have a greater awareness to the threats that someone might pose to a specific individual or the community,” said Montgomery.
This is the second Amber Alert to be issued in Arizona over the past few days. Two children from Tucson were reportedly abducted on Friday by their non-custodial birth parents. The vehicle was found unoccupied in Nogales over the weekend, but the missing children and parents have yet to be located.