AUSTIN (KXAN) — Forty-eight hours after police say an Austin mother abducted her 10-year-old daughter from school, she was found with her three children in northern Florida.
On Wednesday night, the Austin Independent School District Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Sarah Jordan, 38, and on Thursday she was arrested and booked into the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola, Florida.
Jordan was wanted on a charge of interference with child custody. According to an affidavit, Angelia Jordan was in foster care as of Nov. 6 because of an “immediate danger to the physical health or safety of the children” in her family. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported Angelia, along with her sisters Aleshia, 13, and Marcella, 16, may have been with their parents.
Authorities say Angelia was taken by her mother and Marcella from Oak Hill Elementary School shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. AISD police posted photos to its Facebook page, saying, “Her mother and another juvenile, pictured in the green shirt, took Angelia from Oak Hill ES in Southwest Austin…”
Staff were aware Angelia’s parents might try to take her, according to the arrest affidavit. A teacher told police she saw Angelia’s sister Marcella approach the 10-year-old and heard the sister say “OK, OK we’ve got to go.”
AISD police say a teacher and the school’s principal tried to stop her from leaving that afternoon. The teacher told police she tried to block Marcella’s path and when the principal stepped in, she told her, “You don’t want to break the law,’ to which Marcella responded, “go ahead, call the police.” The principal also said she and the teacher were holding onto Angelia, but a woman she believed was Sarah Jordan approached and removed her grip on Angelia.
“[The principal] stated that they then began to ‘run like hell,’” the affidavit continued.
Police also said Aleshia left O. Henry Middle School on her own Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for AISD said their police department is investigating the incident as an “isolated custodial interference” with Child Protective Services.
According to the warrant affidavit, a friend told police Jordan had called and told her she had traveled out of state with her daughters. Police were able to track Jordan’s cell phone.
She and the girls were found a little before 2 p.m. Thursday.
“We were able to get the information out, we were able to obtain a warrant, we were able to locate [them] today,” said AISD Interim Police Chief Christian Evoy at a press conference Thursday, shortly after the missing girls were found. “Sometimes these children like this go for years and they’re never located, so I believe it happened very quickly, and I believe our officers and our detectives did a great job.”
Originally, investigators thought the girls’ father might be with them and their mother, but in a news conference Thursday afternoon, they said he was not found with them. Jordan was arrested and the children are back in CPS care.
A district spokesperson initially said Tuesday that an Amber Alert was in the process of being approved for Angelia, but the Texas Department of Public Safety said the case did not meet the criteria. Later Tuesday evening, the district said they received word from DPS that the information on Jordan was being sent to regional law enforcement instead of an Amber Alert.