Mother arrested, baby found in alleged kidnapping

by | November 20, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: November 20, 2018 at 10:09 am

A six-month-old baby girl is headed home and her mother is in the Colleton County jail after an alleged abduction attempt.
On Saturday about 7 a.m., Alexis Barnes reportedly took her six-month-old daughter in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Barnes lost custody of her daughter in July 2018 after a judge found her mentally unfit to provide adequate care. An amber alert was issued after the incident was reported to the Cleveland Heights Police Department by social services.
About 8 p.m. Saturday night, Ohio authorities received information that the mother and baby might be in the company of a relative in the Walterboro area. “Deputies and investigators from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office began working this lead and determined that the information was credible. Efforts were concentrated in an area around Sniders Highway and I-95 that hosts a number of hotels and motels,” said Major Jason Chapman of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.
Assisted by officers from the Walterboro Police Department, law enforcement located a vehicle registered to Barnes’ uncle in the parking lot of the Baymont Inn and Suites. A door-to-door search of the hotel led to the recovery of Emery Seals and the arrest of Barnes.
“At this time, Emery is safe and in the custody of local social services awaiting recovery to Ohio. Alexis Barnes was arrested on an active arrest warrant stemming from the abduction. She is currently being housed at the Colleton County Detention Center awaiting extradition procedures,” Chapman said.
Barnes was not the only one taken to the detention center. A Cottageville man was taken into custody on two charges when he allegedly attempted to block law enforcement efforts to search his motel room.
Members of the sheriff’s office were conducting a room by room search for the kidnapping suspect and the missing child when they knocked on the door of one of the rooms at the Palms Inn and Suites at 1145 Sniders Highway.
The man reportedly refused to open the door and then allegedly attempted to block officers from entering the room, even after officers explained to him that they were not interested in minor drug activity and the female occupant of the room gave them permission to enter.
He was told that if he continued to interfere, they were going to arrest him on a charge of simple possession of marijuana.
As they attempted to take him into custody, he reportedly continued to fight officers. He was taken to the floor, placed in handcuffs, removed from the room and taken to a cruiser.
The incident resulted in the man, Zachary T. Bennett, 22, of Cottageville being arrested on a charge of simple possession of marijuana and resisting arrest.
More than a dozen law enforcement officers, including Sheriff R.A. Strickland, participated in the search and recovery of Emery Seals. “Nothing brings more smiles and tears to your eyes than the happy ending to a situation like this,” Strickland said. “I am proud to be a part of the team of hard-working men and women who were able to return this baby to a safe and happy home.”
Strickland cited the outstanding professionalism between the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, the Walterboro Police Department, the FBI–Charleston Office and the Cleveland Heights Police Department. “That communication and hard work led to the successful recovery of Emery Seals and the arrest of Alexis Barnes,” he said.

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