A woman who abducted her four children was found in an Indiana gas station on Wednesday morning, police said. The children were reported safe and were taken to a secure place by child protection authorities.
Melody Bannister was arrested at the gas station in Hendricks County, Indiana, by US marshals, according to reports. The woman, who had abducted the children four months ago, was wanted by law enforcers who had called for a nationwide search. The children were taken by the Indiana Department of Child Services, reported the Associated Press.
Child custody and court order violation
The Stafford County Police Department launched an investigation into Bannister last June after she accused a family member of abusing her children. Officials from the police department and the Child Protection Services found her accusations baseless.
She took the children and went on a planned vacation shortly before the Stafford County Juvenile Domestic & Relations Court granted the child's custody to the father.
Despite repeated orders including a rejection of her petition in Alabama, she refused to return the children. Police said Bannister fled from authorities and was chased through almost eight states including Wisconsin, Texas, and Colorado.
She was wanted on four counts of abduction, filing a false report and violating a court order. She is currently held in Indiana until she is extradited to Virginia
Children run away from home amid child abuse investigation, found
The news came on the same day two children who ran away from their home in Davidson County, North Carolina were found on Wednesday by law enforcement authorities.
The children, identified as 10-year-old Malachi Chilton and eight-year-old Mackenzie Chilton, were reported missing from their home on Tuesday night, according to the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. Investigation revealed the children ran away shortly after the Department of Social Security enquired about a complaint related to abuse and neglect.
The children were last seen at around Critcher Drive and Old US Highway 52 at about 4:30 pm, according to WXII 12 news. Authorities using drones and thermal imaging systems found the children unharmed near the area.
Officials said while no criminal charges against the family are pending, the case is currently under investigation.