Officials: Men planned flights, car rentals in young girl’s kidnapping

A 5-year-old child has been reunited with her mother after officials said she was kidnapped from an elementary school playground.

It happened at Westside Elementary School around 2:15 p.m. Friday.

According to a report, two men walked onto the school property and snatched the 5-year-old.

A teacher saw what was happening and rushed to intervene, but was pushed away as the two men took the child away.

The teacher immediately told the school’s resource officer, who notified the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

The two men left with the child in a car, and officials began searching for it with a description given by the teacher.

Deputies found the vehicle about 10 minutes later near the Valdosta Airport, where they were able to pull it over and recover the child.

The two men, identified as 33-year-old Michael Ray McCormick and 36-year-old David Scott Stapp, both of Biloxi, MS, were arrested without incident.

McCormick was charged with kidnapping, simple battery on a school official, and disruption of a school.

Stapp was charged with kidnapping (party to the crime), simple battery on a school official (party to the crime), and disruption of a school (party to the crime).

The child was then taken by officials and reunited with her mother, who is an airman at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta.

The kidnapping plans

Investigators later learned that McCormick is the non-custodial parent of the child, and had traveled from Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Valdosta in a private plane. He had then rented a car to travel to the school.

Officials did not immediately confirm that the two men planned to take off the same day with the child, although they were caught close to the Valdosta Airport.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office said they found the plane that the two men arrived in at the airport and locked it in a hangar to collect evidence.

The plane the two men flew in was a Piper PA-46 with tail number N717BL, investigators reported.

Recorded flight tracking data revealed the plane departed from Trent Lott International Airport in Pascagoula, MS at 6:13 p.m. CDT Thursday and arrived at Valdosta Regional Airport at 8:47 p.m. EDT.

McCormick and Stapp were taken to the Lowndes County Jail. Booking photos of the two were expected to be released Friday night.

A bond hearing was set for the two, but a specific date was not immediately available.