Police in Seminole, Texas, say two suspects accused of abducting a 5-month-old infant in Oklahoma and setting off an Amber Alert, had permission to transport the infant from Oklahoma to Texas.
Oklahoma authorities issued an Amber Alert Thursday after 5-month-old Olivia Smith was reportedly abducted from her grandmother's home in Cashion. Authorities believed two women, 47-year-old Cindy Findley and 43-year-old Jennifer Skousen, took the baby.
Smith was found safe at about 1:40 a.m. Friday in Seminole, Texas. That's in far west Texas between Lubbock and Midland.
The Seminole Police Department released a statement Friday morning, detailing the incident.
According to Seminole Police, at about 4 p.m. Thursday, the former step-mother of Smith contacted officers about the Amber Alert. The former step-mother stated she had paperwork showing that she was granted power of attorney and temporary custody for the infant, which was granted to her by the mother of the infant.
Smith’s mother is currently in jail in Parker County, Texas. Police say Smith was being transported from Oklahoma to Seminole by other relatives.
The former step-mother of the child told police that the suspects listed in the Amber Alert, Findley and Skousen, are related to those involved in the case, and they also had copies of the paperwork along with a signed note by the former step-mother for them to have permission to transport Smith from Oklahoma to Texas.
According to Seminole police, officers then contacted the Kingfisher County Sheriff’s office about the incident. The Kingfisher County Sheriff’s office told Seminole police that they were investigating the case as a kidnapping. Seminole police then sent the Sheriff's office copies of the paperwork.
Seminole police say they also spoke with the FBI in Oklahoma City. The FBI told Seminole police they had already spoken with the former step-mother and received copies of the paperwork, and they verified by contacting the infant’s mother that she had signed and had the documents notarized to give the former step-mother the power of attorney and custody of the infant.
Seminole police officers stayed at the former step-mother’s home to ensure the arrival and safety of the infant.
At about 1:25 a.m. Friday, officers stopped a vehicle that was circling the area. The vehicle, which was not one of the vehicles listed in the Amber Alert, was driven by Cindy Findley. The infant and Skousen were both inside the vehicle.
Police say Findley and Skousen had the paperwork for them to have permission to transport the child. Both stated they did not kidnap the infant. They told police that they did confront the grandmother, and informed her of the paperwork and desires of the mother to have the infant taken care of by the former step-mother.
Both Findley and Skousen stayed and told police they would be willing to answer any questions, and would be staying until the matter is cleared up. The baby was left in the custody of the former step-mother.
However, according to the Kingfisher County Sheriff’s office, the women called the Sheriff’s office on Tuesday to explain the notarized paperwork they had, and the Sheriff’s office told them those papers were not enough to take the baby. The Sheriff’s office says the women went through with their plan anyway.
"This was orchestrated and we were deliberately fed misinformation by other family members, so the women could get to Texas with the baby where that paperwork may have held up. Those papers wouldn't hold up in Oklahoma," said Bryon Blankenship, Kingfisher County Undersheriff.
According to the Sheriff’s office, the grandmother of the child did not know about these legal papers when the women, who are the grandmother’s sister-in-laws, walked in her house and took her daughter's baby.
Charges will be up to the District Attorney because the women unlawfully entered the Cashion home, according to the Sheriff’s office. Blankenship says the office didn't realize until Thursday night while working with Seminole police that the women were the same ones who called on Tuesday.
Sid Findley, husband of Cindy Findley, issued the following statement:
“An Amber Alert was issued on Thursday, July 17 for the removal of five-month-old Olivia Smith from her relatives’ home in Cashion, Oklahoma.
“The facts are the following: my wife, Cindy Findley, and my sister-in-law Jennifer Skousen are concerned, first and foremost, about the safety of the five-month-old baby Olivia Smith. Olivia’s mother had signed legal documents authorizing the removal of the child. Baby Olivia was being taken out of a dangerous environment. Unfortunately, a private family matter escalated because the accusing individual maliciously and falsely issued an Amber Alert and made misleading statements to the media in order to escalate the private family matter.
“We are happy Baby Olivia is now in safe hands and out of a dangerous environment. We appreciate everyone’s concern and respectfully ask to be able to keep this personal family matter private at this time. It is unfortunate that inaccurate and misleading remarks covered by the media have created false impressions of my wife and our family. We hope the public will take this into consideration and we thank you all for your understanding.”