The Sherman Police Department announced that Saadiya James, a missing 4-year-old girl who was believed to have been taken out of state by her father, was found safe in Georgia on Thursday.
In an emailed statement sent Friday, the department said the girl was found by the Alpharetta Police Department. Officers located her with her father, Nathaniel Raymond James, 40, who was arrested on a child custody interference warrant issued by Sherman Police in December.
“We're ecstatic to know that she was found safe and that she was returned to her mother without any incident at all,” Sherman Police Department Assistant Chief Jason Jeffcoat said.
Jeffcoat explained that the girl's mother, Mary James, allowed Nathaniel James to visit with their daughter, despite a court order limiting his custody. The assistant chief said Nathaniel James was last seen in Sherman visiting with Saadiya on Nov. 4 and then fled with the girl.
“He just took off with her without telling the mom and basically absconded with her,” Jeffcoat said.
Sherman Police issued a warrant for James' arrest in December and said they did not believe Saadiya was in any danger at the time. In conjunction with the warrant, the department circulated a press release notifying the public that James was believed to have traveled to Florida with his daughter.
“Our detectives tracked him on loose sightings in Florida,” Jeffcoat said. “He had been seen at the (Patrick) Air Force Base there in (Brevard County), Florida and he had been seen cleaning out his apartment there. He had also been seen renting a car in Maryland at an airport there three or four weeks ago and we were able to confirm that on video.”
Alpharetta Police learned of James' whereabouts thanks to an anonymous tip provided by an individual in Florida who had seen the Sherman Police department's previous press release and recognized James from an included photo. Officers made contact with James and found him in possession of the same rental car, which had been reported stolen. James was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Fulton County Jail. Saadiya James was found unharmed.
“We're just grateful for their work in finding her safe,” Jeffcoat said of the Alpharetta Police Department. “Their officers went above and beyond, there's no doubt. It's my understanding that two of the officers actually drove Saadiya back and met the mom in Memphis, Tennessee this morning (Friday) to release her. That's pretty amazing there.”