Two suspected kidnappers, accused of abducting a baby on Monday, are still on the loose, Harker Heights police said Wednesday, however, one of the suspected kidnappers told the Herald that she and her partner are trying to adopt the child and shouldn’t be facing any charges.
The two women, Rotoyia Vertison, 33, and Runnesha Vertison, 29, are a married couple living in Harker Heights, according to police.
Rotoyia Vertison called the Herald and said they are the guardians of the baby and her two older siblings. She told the Herald that the baby’s biological mother left her three children in their care and was in the process of handing over legal guardianship to the Vertisons for all three children.
Rotoyia Vertison said she and her partner don’t know why the baby’s father accused them of kidnapping the child.
Rotoyia Vertison told the Herald they had previous meetings with Harker Heights Police and the biological mother where the mother passed over the children to their care with police present. Rotoyia Vertison said they were not aware of the warrants for their arrest, but mentioned in a phone call Wednesday that the mother was planning on taking the father off the child’s birth certificate and transferring custody to the Vertisons.
The two women were not in police custody as of Wednesday morning, Harker Heights Police Department spokesman Lawrence Stewart said in response to questions from the Herald. He said the department is still searching for any information on the women. Arrest warrants on kidnapping charges have been secured for both women, he said. In the phone call with Rotoyia, she said they were unaware that there were warrants for their arrest.
“Rotoyia and Runnesha Vertison is not in custody currently and we continue to ask for anyone with knowledge of their location to please contact the Harker Heights Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 254-953-5400, option 2.” Stewart said.
The couple is accused of kidnapping 2-month-old Winter Jones. The baby was reported missing about 1 a.m. Monday, and recovered unharmed about two hours later at a residence in Irving, near Dallas. The Vertisons were also at that residence, but were not arrested by Irving police, according to Harker Heights police.
Irving Public Information Officer Robert Reeves, said local officers were dispatched for a welfare check and made contact with the Vertisons.
“Irving Police verified that everyone was safe and accounted for. The baby was taken to a family welfare facility until the father and a Harker Heights Police Officer arrived and took the baby,” Reeves said.
Runnesha Vertison was arrested for an unrelated traffic warrant issued in Dallas County but has since been released, Reeves said.
The father on Sunday night “came into the Harker Heights Police Department with a complaint against Rotoyia and Runnesha Vertison, both of Harker Heights, refusing to return his 2-month-old daughter to him,” Heights police said in a Monday news release.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued for the baby at 1:20 a.m. Monday. State officials canceled the alert at 3:16 a.m. and the baby has since been reunited with the father, according to Harker Heights police. It is around a two and a half hour drive from Harker Heights to Irving.
During the Amber Alert, state troopers identified Rotoyia Vertison and Runnesha Vertison as the suspects in the abduction case, and the suspect vehicle was a silver 2014 Ford Fusion.