LYNNWOOD — A baby taken from her foster family in California three years ago was found safe in Lynnwood on Thursday.
The girl, now 4, and her father apparently had been living in south Everett, according to local police. The father, 48, adopted a different last name and sold cars over Craigslist to make money.
He was arrested Thursday on a warrant for allegedly abducting his child.
In 2014, a judge had granted the father an unsupervised visit with his daughter, who was staying with a family in southern California, according to the U.S. Marshal’s Service. The man left with his 1-year-old baby and never returned.
Earlier this week, the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force heard the pair might have settled in Washington. The agency pulls members from the sheriff’s office, Everett Police Department, U.S. Marshal’s Service and the state Department of Corrections. They are responsible for tracking down the county’s most dangerous felons.
Task force members saw online that the father was selling an old BMW. They scheduled an appointment with him to take a look.
An officer posed as a potential buyer. He agreed to meet the father at a gas station in the 5100 block of 168th Street SW in Lynnwood.
More police were watching from afar. They saw a BMW pull up with a Cadillac that allegedly was driven by the father’s cousin, said Sgt. David Crandall with the task force. An officer with binoculars spotted a little girl in the back seat of the Cadillac.
He called the undercover officer, who wrapped up the meeting, telling the father he would give him a call after viewing a few other options.
Crandall had been waiting in his car a couple of blocks away. He followed the Cadillac and BMW as they drove away. They headed north to the 16200 block of 48th Avenue West.
The two cars pulled over to the side of the road in a neighborhood. The father walked over to the Cadillac. He grabbed the girl’s hand and walked her over to the BMW where he buckled her into a car seat.
The task force converged and arrested the man.
He was taken to a local hospital after reporting chest pains and shortness of breath, according to a probable cause affidavit. He later was booked into the Snohomish County Jail while he awaits a possible extradition to California.
His next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 2.
Child Protective Services took custody of the girl. Crandall said she hadn’t been going to school. She didn’t know how old she was. Crandall told her she is turning 5 later this month.
The girl is expected to return to California in the coming days where she will be placed into a new family.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; email@example.com.