LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Metro Police said Wednesday they requested an AMBER Alert for a missing two-year-old girl three days before it was actually issued late Tuesday.
Missing Persons Sergeant Donny Burbrink said Joshua Yeager, 24, took Jaylynn Maxey on Friday after assaulting her mother and 8-month-old brother outside a Walmart at Bardstown Road and the Gene Snyder Freeway.
However, Burbrink said the mother, Melissa, told police Jaylynn was not in danger. "Her information was he treats the 8 month old differently than the two year old. The two year old, basically walks on water to this guy, never harm the two year old, there's never been anything but love to the two year old," Burbrink said. "Obviously that's always subject to change but she didn't think that that child was in any imminent physical danger in any way shape or form."
Burbrink said Jaylynn's mother started getting ominous text messages from Yeager on Saturday saying she would never see Jaylynn again and, "It's finished." At that point, LMPD requested that Kentucky State Police issue an AMBER Alert. KSP denied the request, Burbrink said.
Once that request was denied, Burbrink added, LMPD made the decision not to activate its own Operation Return Home Alert for missing children because officers did not want to spook Yeager.
"The last thing we want to do with a guy whose mindset we're not quite sure about is provoke him into doing something that we don't want him to do," Burbrink said.
Instead, Burbrink said, police asked surrounding agencies to be on the lookout for Yeager.
On Tuesday, LMPD said officers got more information indicating that Yeager was armed and possibly suicidal and again made the request, which was granted. The AMBER Alert was issued around 7:00 Tuesday night.
The Shepherdsville Police Department believes Yeager is pictured in surveillance photographs holding up a Stock Yards Bank at 183 Adam Shepherd Parkway around 12:30 Monday afternoon. Sergeant Michael O'Donnell said investigators have not questioned Yeager about the holdup yet, but he is the only person they're looking at as a possible suspect. O'Donnell said after police released the photos to the media Monday, there was an outpouring of tips identifying Yeager.
Burbrink said the public also flooded dispatchers with tips on Jaylynn and Joshua once the AMBER alert was issued. "There were so many people because it was activated -- not just here in Louisville -- but across the bridge in Indiana too. So everybody was on the lookout for this guy, along with this child."
He said one of the reasons AMBER alerts are so successful is that they are so rare. In order to issue one, police must be sure a child has been abducted, have enough descriptive information of a suspect and a vehicle to help find them and have reason to believe that the child is in danger of serious harm or death.
Kentucky State Police caught Yeager near Upton, Kentucky around 12:30 Wednesday morning. Jaylynn was taken to Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown as a precaution. Police said she has since been released to her mother and grandmother.
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