The parents of a missing 2-year-old South Carolina were captured in Iowa on Monday. The toddler was also found, safe and unharmed.
The Des Moines Register reports that a little girl named Dakota became the center of a national search effort last month when her biological parents, Jessica Louise Ray, 36, and William Eugene Ray, 43, reportedly abducted the toddler from South Carolina. The pair were found in Winneshiek County, Iowa, after several people spotted the couple in and around drug stores in Decorah, Utah. Both suspects are reported heavy users of methamphetamines.
Dakota Ray has been located and is currently safe in child protective custody in the state of Iowa. William and Jessica…
On Monday, after a witness reported seeing Dakota at an Iowa hospital, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children asked for the public’s help in finding the toddler. Numerous tips began pouring in, with one witness spotting the pair at a local Walmart. She lost sight of them as they drove away, but an off-duty firefighter listening to a police scanner heard the information while in the area, then spotted their car and started following them. Police caught up with the couple and pulled them over on Quarry Hill Road after the firefighter called in with a description of their location.
William Ray was arrested and charged with numerous offenses, including theft, driving a vehicle without a valid driver’s license, and “failure to provide proof of financial liability.” Jessica Ray, who has a warrant out of South Carolina, was also arrested and charged with theft.
Dakota was taken to a local hospital and given a clean bill of health. She’s now in the custody of the Iowa Department of Human Services.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, South Carolina police said last month they had no reason to believe Dakota is in any immediate danger, but Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd indicated that both parents are “heavy into meth,” which prompted a national search for the suspects.
“It’s a great example of the public and law enforcement working together to make good things happen,” Winneshiek County Sheriff Dan Marx said. “Because of the cooperation between the tips we received and law enforcement aggressively responding, this all came together under eight hours.”
[Feature Photo: Dakota Ray/Handout]