HOUSTON A missing toddler who was strapped into a Jeep that was stolen from a Walmart parking lot Thursday afternoon was found safe in Houston Friday morning, police said.
Investigators said a business owner spotted the stolen Jeep behind a strip center in the 8200 block of West Bellfort. When he looked inside, he saw Evan Lamar Miller, still strapped in his car seat.
When I looked inside, I found the kid stuck in the car seat and that s when I run back to the restaurant and dialed 911. They told me it was OK for me to open the door and go inside, said Terron Henry of Cool Runnings Jamaican restaurant. The baby appeared that he was sleeping or dead and I pulled him out and grabbed him and I realized he wasn t dead. I ran back to the restaurant, wrapped him in a blanket and the fire department came and took him.
The Jeep was in a hidden spot behind the restaurant, and Henry was lucky to find him.
It was weird because where the vehicle is in the back. It was a walkway, not a driveway, so it is forced between some pathway and some bushes. A way you can t see from the street, Henry said.
Henry said little Evan was not crying aloud, but did have tears running down his face.
Investigators issued an Amber Alert for Miller after he was abducted from the parking lot of a Walmart in the 11200 block of South Gessner Drive in southwest Houston around 5:44 p.m. Thursday.
His mother told police she left her Jeep Cherokee running in a handicapped parking space to run back into the store to use the ATM.
I left my son and my niece in the car because it is very, very cold, and windy, and I had just gotten them bundled up, and the heat had started running and I did not want to take them back out, Niah O Neil said.
The 7-year-old girl was able to get out of the vehicle, but the toddler was left inside as the vehicle was stolen, police said.
O Neil said she was only in the store for three minutes.
As I am running out, I saw my niece running toward me screaming my name, and my car going down the road. I dropped everything and ran towards the car, she said.
Police immediately launched a search for Miller, but there was no trace of him until Henry called 911 Friday morning.
Evan was taken to the hospital to be checked out, but was released on Friday around 1:45 p.m.
Investigators hope video surveillance will help them identify the thief and kidnapper.
They said when Evan s cousin ran from the Jeep, the suspect tried to grab her, so there s a possibility that she may have been the target. But once she got away, he took off with the Jeep and the little boy.
Surveillance photos showed the suspect even struck a customer as he tried to make a quick getaway.
The Jeep was abandoned just one block away from the place it was taken. It was not clear if the baby was there all night or not.
The man who found Evan says he is glad it all ended well.
I m not even thinking, I am just happy he is alive right now because I was still frightened myself, Henry said.