COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that multiple agencies have been searching hotels, motels and trailer parks around the Dayton area, particularly around Interstates 70 and 75, looking for kidnapping suspect Nalah Jackson and 5-month-old Kason Thomas.
Columbus Deputy Chief Smith Weir said Jackson faces two counts of kidnapping in Franklin County. She's accused of stealing a car Monday night in the busy Short North area, with Kason and his twin brother, Kyair, inside it.
Kyair was found in a baby seat in the parking lot at the Dayton airport early Tuesday morning, but Jackson and Kason, as well as the 2010 Honda Accord, have not been found.
"Obviously as time goes by, we’re concerned. Which is why we’re pleading and begging for anyone with information to give it to us," Columbus Police Chief, Elaine Bryant, said.
Weir also said that late Tuesday night, investigators contacted relatives of the suspect, but wouldn't elaborate on what may have been discussed. He added that officers responded to a report of someone handing over a child in Richland County, about an hour northeast of Columbus, but that turned out to be unrelated.
According to Weir, detectives received information that Jackson was asking people in the Dayton area to use their phone. He said investigators found some of those people and figured out the people Jackson contacted. Police also connected with two people who talked to Jackson around the Dayton airport area and interviewed them.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Columbus police released two new photos of the stolen Honda Accord that the boys' mother was driving.
Below is the tweet the department sent out at 3:28 p.m.:
"Investigators are releasing new photos of the stolen 2010 Honda Accord the suspect, Nalah Jackson, is suspected to be driving. That vehicle was taken from outside a Donatos in the Short North. These photos show the ripped temp tag and a bumper sticker that says Westside Toys."
Wednesday morning, law-enforcement agencies issued BOLO (Be On the Look Out) alerts to five surrounding states for Jackson, whom investigators said is homeless. Weir was asked during a news conference Wednesday whether Jackson may have any mental health issues. He said that was something they are looking into.
The BOLO alerts were issued for Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania in hopes to find Jackson.
On Tuesday, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant urged Jackson to return the boy.
Jackson, whom Bryant said is homeless, allegedly stole the car in the Short North area Monday night; Kyair was found at a Dayton airport early Tuesday morning.
"Please return Kason Thomas," Bryant said during a news conference at Columbus Police Headquarters. "We thank you for returning Kyair. You can return him to any location ... We can even pick him up. Just call us and tell us where you are, and where Kason is."
Columbus police posted a tweet at about 5 p.m. Tuesday showing new photos of Jackson with the following information:
"The search continues for Kason Thomass, who was in his mother’s car, which was stolen in the Short North last night. The suspect, Nalah Jackson, was later captured on video at a gas station in Huber Heights where she asked an employee for money."
The boys were inside their mother's Honda Accord when she ran inside a Donatos restaurant at East 1st Avenue and North High Street at 9:45 p.m.
The mother turned around after entering the store and her four-door Black 2010 Honda Accord was gone, police said. The car is missing the front bumper, has a torn temporary Ohio registration tag numbered M965246 on the rear bumper, and a white bumper sticker on the rear that says "Westside City Toys."
Columbus Deputy Chief Smith Weir said the boys' mother had just recently purchased the car, and that "muddies the waters" somewhat for investigators.
Weir also said a police helicopter was involved in the search, as are multiple nearby police agencies.
"We consider this child to be in danger," Weir said. "We are asking for the community's help. This is a cry for help."
Jackson was at the Donatos shortly before the car was stolen. She is seen on video leaving the restaurant just before the car was taken. Police said she has a history of stealing cars left running, which was the circumstance of this car getting taken.
Dayton airport officials said Kyair was found in his car seat in a parking lot. A passenger found him crying and brought him into the terminal around 4:37 a.m. It's not clear why she dropped off one baby but kept the other.
"That's a troubling aspect of this case," Weir said. "(I'm) perplexed as to why that may be."
It is unclear how long Kyair was left outside in the cold. He is now back with his parents who said he is OK.
Investigators are reviewing airport surveillance video for additional clues.
Bryant said there was a "communication lapse" that kept her from finding out about the incident for several hours, adding that the AMBER Alert and a police news conference both would have taken place earlier had communication been better.
A city spokesperson said that along with Bryant, six deputy chiefs and two assistant chiefs also were not notified immediately about the abduction.
"We just have to do a better job and make sure that communication is taking place," Bryant said during Tuesday's news conference.
The spokesperson added that Columbus police issued its first public notification about the incident at 11:07 p.m. The Ohio Highway Patrol confirmed to ABC 6 reporter Lisa Rantala that it was not notified about a possible AMBER Alert until 11:41 p.m. The AMBER Alert was issued at 12:59 a.m.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact police at 614-645-4701 or central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-TIPS (8477).