A Long Beach mother was arrested and charged with kidnapping Monday for allegedly abducting her 12-year-old son, setting off an Amber Alert, authorities said.
Sri Ann Johnston, 48, was charged with one count each of kidnapping and child custody deprivation, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities said Johnston went to pick up her son for an overnight visit on Wednesday but didn’t take him to school the following day. The child’s father, who has custody, later received a call from someone who said the child may be in the Oceanside area, police said.
“Believing the child would be returned home, the father didn’t report him missing to law enforcement until Friday evening around 9:15 p.m.,” the Long Beach Police Department said in a statement.
Police searched for the boy over the weekend but did not issue an Amber Alert because there was no evidence of any risk of harm to the child, authorities said.
As part of the criteria set by the U.S. Department of Justice for Amber Alert, law enforcement must determine that the child is at risk of serious injury or death.
After receiving new details on the kidnapping, authorities issued an Amber Alert on Monday and notifications went out to mobile devices throughout the region.
About two hours later, police found the boy safe with his mother in the Oceanside area.
Johnston was taken into custody by U.S. marshals and booked on a kidnapping warrant. She is being held at the Long Beach City Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
If convicted as charged, she faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison, authorities said.
The Amber Alert system originated in Texas in 1996 following the death of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered. California adopted the Amber Alert statewide in 2002.
Since 2002, 217 Amber Alerts have been issued in California, according to the California Highway Patrol. Of those, 255 victims have been recovered.
Roughly half of all cases involve parental abductions, according to statistics.
Last year, 12 Amber Alerts were issued in California. Of those, 10 victims were recovered, and one case was found to be a hoax.
Anyone with information regarding the Long Beach incident should contact Long Beach Child Abuse Detective Rodney Brown at (562) 570-7321. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or text TIPLA plus your tip to 274637 (CRIMES), or visit http://www.LACrimeStoppers.org.
BY KELLY PUENTE / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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