MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The four missing Manatee County children who were the focus of an Amber Alert have been found safe in Alabama. Their mother is behind bars.
For days, agencies in Florida and around the country were desperately looking for the four Gedeaun children.
Last week, the children were staying at their grandmother’s house in Bradenton when officials say their mother, Jaima Gadeaun snatched them and vanished.
Gadeaun, who has a history of erratic behavior, did not have custody of the children. She was also involved in a shooting and robbery at her estranged husband’s house in July.
Authorities suspected the family fled the state and were hopeful for a big tip.
Terry Sandefur was staying at a Hampton Inn in Eufaula, Alabama when she noticed something odd Thursday night.
“This lady and two children were in and out of the lobby and back and forth and something just wasn’t right about them,” said Sandefur
Later that night, before she went to sleep she decided to check her news feed on Facebook.
“That was the very first thing that popped up on my news feed, was the Amber Alert,” said Sandefur. “As soon as I saw the picture, I thought, these two little girls were down in the lobby earlier.”
She quickly called 911.
“We came down and walked the parking lot ‘til we found the car,” recalled Sandefur.
The children are now in protective custody and the mother is awaiting extradition on charges of interference with child custody and aggravated battery for the incident in July.
“You just don’t know how someone is going to act, who has acted irrationally in the past. And when you have four childrens’ lives at stake, you have to take this kind of action and it worked,” said Manatee County Sheriff spokesman Dave Bristow.
Sandefur is just happy the children are safe.
“I just called the police and tried to do what’s right,” said Sandefur. “God had his hand in this, this was divine intervention.”
The children’s father, Joseph Gadeaun is relieved.
“I’m glad they are going to come back safe. Thank you to law enforcement for finding them,” said Gadeaun.
He also has a message for his children:
“I just want to say I love you kids and miss you so much. I knew you were in safe hands. I wasn’t worried. I just need you to pray with me for Mom to get herself together. I’m sorry for all the damage we caused for you and everyone.”
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office will soon arrange for the children to be brought back home. It’s unclear who will have custody.
It’s also unknown when Jaima Gadeaun will be brought back to Manatee County to face her charges. Officials say it could be a few weeks or a few months. We will keep you updated.
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