Missing children, aunt found in Missouri

By Jamel Major - bio | email

NEW MADRID, MO (WMC-TV) - Two young children kidnapped by their aunt were found in Missouri late Friday night, officials said.

Authorities said the suspect in the kidnapping, Marissa Patterson, fled Lilbourn, Missouri sometime Friday morning after a judge ordered her sister's two children to be taken into protective custody.

Officials said Patterson fled with Brian Birdwell, 1, and Veronica Birdwell, 3, along with her own young daughter.  Investigators said Patterson likely did not want the two children to be taken into the state's custody.

"She told us she'd physically bring the kids up to juvenile court so we could take custody of the kids and she never did," said Jason Ward of the New Madrid County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators tracked Patterson's cell phone to a location as far as 30 miles south of Memphis on Interstate 55.  However, she later returned to Missouri.

"Honestly, I don't think she wants to see the kids taken away from their mother," Ward said. "Obviously she cares for her children, but due to the circumstances the State of Missouri had to step in to take custody of the children."

Officials were expected to release more information about the abduction on Saturday.

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