UPDATE: The baby has been located safely

Police: Baby kidnapped by father 'believed to be in danger' found safe

Posted: Updated:
Police believe Delilah Nelson was taken by her father, Shawn Nelson. (Source: Navajo Police Department) Police believe Delilah Nelson was taken by her father, Shawn Nelson. (Source: Navajo Police Department)
(Source: Navajo Police Department) (Source: Navajo Police Department)

Arizona DPS said Saturday afternoon that a baby girl from the Navajo Nation believed to be taken by her father and 'in danger' has been located safe.

According to DPS, Delilah Nelson was found today around noon. No other details were released except that she had been 'located safely.[sic]'

While the circumstances were not immediately available, police were clear: “Delilah Nelson is believed to be in DANGER if not located immediately,” read a news alert from the department on Friday night.

Police said Shawn Nelson, the baby's father, does not have custody of 15-month-old Delilah and that he took the baby from her grandmother in Teesto, AZ. It's not clear if the grandmother is maternal or paternal, but she is Delilah's legal guardian, according to investigators.

[PHOTO: Delilah Nelson]

Teesto, which is on the border between the Navajo Nation and Hopi land (across Highway 87 from Seba Dalkai), is located about 20 minutes north of Dilkon, which is 3.5 to four hours northeast of Phoenix, depending on the route.

[PHOTO: Shawn Nelson]

No Amber Alert

Investigators with the Navajo Police Dilkon District did not say why they believe Delilah is in danger and an Amber Alert was not issued.

[SLIDESHOW: Missing children cases that rocked Arizona]

According to a Dec. 17, 2017 article in the Navajo Times, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye recently signed a contract to buy software that "will make it possible for the Navajo National to establish its own Amber Alert ...."

That software, according to the article, has an emergency alert system, a wireless alert system, and a national alert system.

It's not clear when the software will be implemented, but expectations are high.

“The purchase of this software will provide us to begin an AMBER Alert system on Navajo and other emergency needs,” Begaye said, according to Arlyssa Becenti's piece. “There’s going to be communication that’s more extensive than before.”

The Navajo Nation, which gained independence from the U.S. federal government in 1868, spans three states -- Arizona, New Mexico and Utah -- and has a population of 250,000. It's the largest American Indian reservation in the country.

Without its own Amber Alert system, the Navajo Nation had to coordinate with authorities in other states and/or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to get information to the public.

The push for the Navajo Nation to establish its own Amber Alert system ramped up after the May 2016 murder and sexual assault of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike. Her killer was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque to life in prison in October 2017.

Ashlynne was taken on a Monday afternoon, but the Amber Alert in New Mexico did not go out until 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

"Officials and community members say it took too long for information to get from the tribe to the outside authorities who could help, wasting precious search time," according to a CBS and AP story posted at the time.

[CBS NEWS: Sharp criticism over delayed Amber Alert for slain Navajo girl]

Details on whether the father will be charged with any crime or if he was in fact the man who took her were not released.

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