A 3-week-old baby who had been reported missing in Toulon Thursday was found alive and healthy Thursday night.
Stark County Sheriff Jimmie Dison said during a news conference Thursday night that Mr. and Mrs. Russell Van Dran, who were part of a countywide search effort, found Mia Graci Thompson around 7 p.m. Thursday — nearly 11 hours after the baby was reported missing.
Dison said the Van Drans were searching in the area of a bridge over a ravine on a township road east of Pitzer’s Curve on Routes 17 and 91 between Toulon and Wyoming. They heard the infant crying, and then found her. They picked her up, took her back to their truck and phoned the sheriff’s office.
After deputies blocked the highway and the township road, the Stark County Ambulance transported the baby to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.
Dison said it was not known Thursday night how long Mia had been where she was found, or how she got there. The case remains under investigation, he said. The discovery of the baby capped a search by dozens of people, several police agencies, half a dozen fire departments and a number of community volunteers. The Stark County Sheriff’s Office issued an Amber alert Thursday morning for Mia, who is the daughter of Kendra Meaker and Timothy Thompson of Toulon.
At the time, the sheriff’s office announced that the child was abducted at 8:10 a.m. from the back seat of a vehicle parked at the Toulon Post Office. They issued an Amber alert about the missing child, which was canceled Thursday night. The baby was wearing a yellow onesie with a flower on the left shoulder and blue jeans with pink flowers on the cuffs. Witnesses reported seeing a gold or tan Buick or Pontiac and a white female with brown hair wearing yellow sweat pants in the area at the time.
However, on Thursday afternoon authorities announced that their investigation had determined that neither the car nor the woman was involved in the case. The Illinois State Police and the FBI were called into the case. Investigators spent much of the day Thursday speaking with the missing child’s mother.
In a news conference Thursday afternoon, authorities said the case was being treated as a missing child. Family members were not suspected of any wrongdoing, they said. Authorities said the mother drove Thursday morning from her home to the post office about four blocks away. Mia and her 2-year-old sister were in the back seat.
Meaker parked at the post office, got out of the car and saw that the post office wasn’t open yet. She got back in the car and drove home, at which point she discovered that the infant was missing. She immediately went to the sheriff’s office to report the missing child.
Page 2 of 2 - Law enforcement, fire and ambulance personnel and community volunteers searched throughout Toulon and vicinity for any sign of the infant. Fire departments joining in the search include Toulon, Wyoming-Speer, Galva, LaFayette and Princeville-Akron. The case attracted the attention of the national news media, as the sheriff’s office received calls Thursday from Fox News, CNN, the Today Show and other media.
A candlelight vigil was held Thursday night at LaFayette United Methodist Church, where the baby’s family are members.
Anyone with information about the case was urged to call the Stark County Sheriff’s Office at 286-2541 or Illinois State Police at 847-872-4505.