Kidnapped 2-year-old found safe, suspect on the loose

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

LAVEEN and COOLIDGE, Ariz. -- A 2-year-old boy who was the center of an early morning Amber Alert is safe, but the young woman who took him is still on the loose.

Police say the suspect, Anna Johnson, is a cousin of Eric Warrior Smith Jr.'s mother. The 19-year-old was babysitting at the family's home in Coolidge Tuesday morning when she took off with Eric, whose nickname is "Beanie."

The Gila River Police Department issued an Amber Alert for Eric shortly after 11:30 p.m. That alert has since been canceled.

Robert Hawks of the Gila River Indian Community Police Department said investigators are not sure why she took the boy and that a multi-agency operation is under way to find her.

"We do have a good idea of where we can find her," Hawks said. "She needs to come to us and explain what happened."

The Dodge Caravan Johnson took from the Smith home was spotted speeding along 51st Avenue south of Interstate 10 Tuesday evening.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office helicopter located the vehicle parked in a desert area off the roadway just west of Vee Quiva Casino near 51st Avenue and Ray Road at about 5 a.m. Wednesday. Eric was alone inside. He appeared to be fine but was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

It's not clear when Johnson abandoned the van and left Eric behind. Investigators are not sure how she left the scene, whether it was on foot or if somebody picked her up.

"All night long, this has been an extremely collaborative effort by all local Valley police departments," Hawks said. "The FBI has been involved, as well. We have been going non-stop with new information, new leads ...."

According to Eric's family, Johnson had been staying with them while she got back on her feet after a bad relations and issues with alcohol and drugs.

Johnson is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds. She has long black hair and brown eyes.

The area where Eric was found is about an hour northwest of Coolidge, on the opposite of the Gila River Indian Reservation.