CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WTSP) - Two children missing since Saturday were found safe in Georgia on Monday morning. 3-year-old Rylan Williams and 1-year-old Mason Williams’ mother took the children from their caregiver and left with their father. The parents do not have legal custody of their children.
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Close to 28 hours passed between the children’s abduction and an emergency AMBER Alert notification was sent to the public. Millions of people saw the AMBER Alert issued at 9:08 Sunday night, nearly two hours after the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office issued the alert to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"Just because an AMBER Alert didn't go out, doesn't mean we weren't actively looking and doing everything within our power to do it. An AMBER Alert is just another tool,” said Citrus County Sheriff’s Captain Brad Smith.
“Before you just put something out, I think you want to make sure you follow the statute and do it the right way and if you use it too liberally I think it’s definitely something that people could go, ‘oh, it’s another AMBER Alert’.”
Capt. Smith said investigators were trying to monitor the Williams through various forms of surveillance, and finally got a lead on their location.
“When you’re working around the clock and you’re hoping for that phone call to get the good news, it’s a great thing when it comes in,” said Capt. Smith. “We had some information come in that they used an EBT card in Georgia which gave us some information that they were possibly still in that area so we started honing in and focusing resources into the Georgia area.”
Smith also said they carefully considered whether or not to issue an AMBER Alert in the first place, because they weren’t sure if the children’s lives were in danger or if the parents just wanted to abduct the children and flee.