An Amber Alert issued promptly after the alleged abduction of a 4-month-old North Idaho boy on Monday led directly to his recovery, according to law enforcement officials.
“This is one case where it worked,” said Shoshone County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Harris.
Shoshone County Sheriff Chuck Reynalds requested the alert following a call from the baby’s mother in Prichard, Idaho, about 12:15 p.m. Monday.
The Amber Alert was issued by 1 p.m., shortly after Reynalds made the request.
That’s a big improvement over the alert issued when Shasta and Dylan Groene were discovered missing from their home near Wolf Lodge Bay May 17, when their mother, brother and mother’s boyfriend were found beaten to death with a hammer.
In that case, it took 3 ½ hours to issue the alert because the sheriff’s request was held up by individuals in the Idaho State Communications Bureau, who questioned whether the announcement met the Amber Alert criteria. The criteria previously called for enough descriptive information – such as a vehicle description – to help in the recovery of the child.
Shasta Groene was recovered on July 2, when she walked into a Coeur d’Alene Denny’s restaurant with her alleged abductor, Joseph E. Duncan III. Dylan’s remains were found a short time later at a remote, makeshift campsite in Montana.
The baby who disappeared Monday in Shoshone County was recovered about three hours later near Missoula, according to Shoshone County Sheriff’s officials.
Reynalds said it was issued more quickly because since the hang-up with the Groene Amber Alert, the new statewide Amber Alert protocol no longer calls for approval or disapproval of the message before it’s distributed.
“If a local law enforcement agency decides an Amber Alert needs to be issued, it’s issued,” Reynalds said.
A Forest Service employee working on a fire heard Monday’s alert and spied the suspect’s Toyota pickup heading east on Interstate 90 outside of Missoula, according to Sheriff’s officials.
The employee, identified as Tyler Robinson from the Yellowstone Park area, contacted authorities and the Montana Highway Patrol stopped and arrested Jason Richard Hurt of Prichard.
Hurt is the baby’s father, and is separated from the mother, 19-year-old Shawn Walker of Missoula. Walker and the baby had traveled with Hurt’s mother from Missoula to Prichard on Sunday to visit Hurt, according to Harris.
When they got ready to leave on Monday, he said, Walker and Hurt got into an argument that got physical, and Hurt hit the child while trying to hit Walker. Walker, who is three months pregnant, jumped out a bathroom window and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911, Harris said.
While she was next door, Hurt allegedly grabbed his baby son, and left with his mother and 14-year-old brother.
Walker was treated and released from Shoshone Medical Center in Kellogg.
After Hurt was arrested, officials placed the baby in protective custody until Walker could return and be reunited with him.
Hurt has been charged with felony injury to a child and felony domestic battery, and is awaiting extradition back to Shoshone County. Sheriff’s deputies say they also found a marijuana growing operation at his home; drug charges are pending.