Two Indianapolis police officers had spent the day searching in vain for a missing baby in a stolen vehicle when they stopped to eat and gather their wits.
A woman suspected of stealing the 2010 black Honda Accord had been taken into custody earlier that day, on December 22, but the vehicle was still missing. More urgently, baby Kason Thomass, who was in the car with his twin Kyair Thomass when it was stolen three days earlier in Columbus, Ohio, had yet to be found.
“It was time for us to decompress because we were disappointed that we could not find him,” Sgt. Shawn Anderson of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department told CNN affiliate WISH-TV. “And then God opened up the heavens to us and almost took him and put him right in our hands.”
At the same time as the officers had stopped to eat, two women were also getting hungry during their search for the same baby, they told the Indianapolis Star.
Indianapolis resident Shyann Delmar and her cousin, Mecka Curry, told the paper they had been following their own trail of clues about the missing baby since Wednesday.
According to the Star, Delmar’s interest in the case began on Tuesday, when she had an interaction with a woman who she and Curry believed looked like the suspect in the kidnapping.
The cousins arranged a meeting with the woman on Thursday and helped lead police to their location, they told the Star, and the woman was taken into custody. Police announced the arrest of the kidnapping suspect, Nalah Jackson, that same afternoon. CNN reached out to Indianapolis police to verify if the woman the cousins knew only as “Mae” was indeed Jackson.
The suspect, Nalah Jackson, 24, was awaiting extradition to Columbus, where she faces two felony counts of kidnapping. A warrant for Jackson’s arrest was filed through the Franklin County Court, according to an online docket. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has also charged Jackson with battery of bodily waste, online court records show.
It’s unclear if Jackson has an attorney.
On the night of December 19, Kason and Kyair Thomass were left inside the running car as their mother picked up a DoorDash order in Columbus. When she returned, the car was gone, along with the twins, according to Columbus police.
Kyair was found abandoned near the Dayton International Airport in the early morning hours of December 20, police said. But it would be days before Kason was found in Indianapolis – about 175 miles from where he was taken.
And even after Jackson’s arrest, Kason hadn’t been found.
The cousins told the Star that, based on a bus schedule left in their car by the woman, they decided to trace the bus route to look for cars buried in the snow.
There, outside a Papa John’s was the stolen car, with a baby inside, the paper reported.
The cousins told the paper that they spotted the officers nearby and flagged them.
In a statement, a Columbus Police spokesperson said Delmar and Curry were involved in Jackson’s arrest and Kason’s recovery, though the spokesperson could not give details. When contacted for comment, Indianapolis Police referred questions to Columbus Police.
The Indianapolis Star reported that police radio communications, social media posts and what authorities have released match up with what Delmar and Curry told them.
“When we found him, he was cold, right, but he was awake, he was breathing, he was moving around a little bit,” El said in an interview with WBNS-TV. “His eyes were open wide and just trying to take everything in.”
Kason’s family said he was doing as well as to be expected under the circumstances, the station reported. LaFonda Thomass, the twins’ grandmother, said she was overwhelmed by the discovery.
“This is going to be the best Christmas ever,” she told WBNS-TV. “I’m so excited. It is a miracle.”
This story has been updated with additional details from the Indianapolis Star report.
CNN’s Giovanna Van Leeuwen, Sharif Paget and Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.