The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) has arrested three people in connection to a Gainesville boy who was declared missing last week and found Sunday night after a multi-agency search that included the FBI.
“The child was found in Clay County,” GPD spokesman David Chudzik said in a phone interview. “He’s in great condition, not injured.”
Chudzik said the search for the boy included GPD, the FBI, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Just after 4 a.m. Monday morning, the grandparents of the missing boy, Ean Stephens, were booked into the Alachua County Jail. Jamie Stephens, 43, and Tommy Stephens, 55, face identical charges: child neglect without great bodily harm and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
“These charges do not stem from him being missing,” Chudzik said, noting the investigation uncovered neglect and the Florida Department of Children and Families is involved.
It’s also not clear how a third person ties to the family, although she faces charges related to Stephens’ disappearance, Chudzik said. Tiffany Mejia, 40, is charged with interfering with the custody of a minor, tampering with evidence, marijuana possession with intent to sell, cocaine possession, drug equipment possession, and amphetamine trafficking.
According to a GPD press release sent out midday Monday, GPD learned of the boy’s disappearance in the early morning hours of Friday, which was particularly concerning given the area’s cold temperatures.
“An FDLE Missing Child Alert was issued, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Aviation unit responded and conducted an overhead search of the area, multiple reverse 911 calls/texts were made to the community, information was shared with the media, and uniformed officers distributed hundreds of flyers with the missing child’s information to the local community,” the release said. “Additionally, the FBI was consulted and provided invaluable assistance throughout the investigation.”
Detectives caught a break in the case when reviewing video surveillance from the area where the boy was last seen.
“[T]he missing child was observed late in the night of the 22nd outside of a closed business appearing to be in distress,” the release said. “The video contradicted previous statements that were made by a witness, Tiffany Mejia, and at that point Mejia became a person of interest in the missing child’s disappearance.”
Authorities subsequently searched Mejia’s residence. During the search she “admitted to taking the missing child and driving him outside of the area to an unknown residence,” GPD reported.
Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputies later located the boy and confirmed to GPD that he was safe.
“The Gainesville Police Department thanks the community, the FBI, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the many other individuals and organizations that worked together through the holidays to bring this child home safe,” the GPD release said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
Is he In the states Care now? He should have been
They probably placed him with the next closest relative or in a foster home until his case goes to court to determine next of kin.
I could tell he was neglected by the statements made to the local news. It was the neighbors that were concerned, and missed him. All the neighbors loved the kid, no loving comments from his parents.
You don’t know where your 13 year old is at night…. Your a neglecting your child. Thank God he was found unharmed, hopefully he will be in a better situation now. God bless this boy.