PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Police say they've caught the man who allegedly kidnapped his baby boy from his mother in Peoria.
Officers spotted Eric Maes in Phoenix near 23rd Avenue and Cactus Road around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday. Authorities had been searching for him since Tuesday evening. Officers say they tried to talk to Maes but he ran off. City of Phoenix park rangers and Peoria police helped Phoenix police with the search of that area. Maes was found and taken into custody in a wash/canal near 23rd Avenue and Thunderbird Road. He was then taken to the Peoria Police Department headquarters. He'll be booked in 4th Avenue Jail on one count of manslaughter, police said.
The child was eventually found safe, but his mom died trying to prevent the kidnapping.
According to police, 30-year-old Brittany Walker-Martie of Phoenix was loading her 10-month-old son Abel Maes into a vehicle near 91st Avenue and Deer Valley Road around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The baby's father, Maes of Sun City, showed up and stole the car with the boy still inside, police said.
Callers flooded 911, reporting that a woman was on top of a car that was being driven down the road, according to Sgt. Amanda Gaines of the Peoria Police Department. Officers located Walker-Martie, who had life-threatening injuries from being thrown off the car.
Investigators were able to speak with Walker-Martie briefly before she was taken into surgery, Gaines said. Walker-Martie died during surgery.
"I was told he was weaving in and out of traffic, and she just held on until she couldn't anymore," says Juliann Davis, Walker's cousin. Davis says, for the past year, Walker had been trying to break away from the abusive relationship.
"This was a sick human being who was troubled, in and out of rehab, abused drugs," says Davis.
Maes ditched the vehicle and was last seen running with the baby in the area of 25th Avenue and Cactus Road in Phoenix. An Amber Alert was activated just before midnight in hopes the public could help locate Maes and Abel.
Around 1 a.m., the Phoenix Fire Department responded to a report of an abandoned child. Police confirmed that child to be Abel. He was not hurt, and the Amber Alert was canceled just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Police said on Wednesday afternoon that they found Maes but didn't say where or how they tracked him down.
At this point, investigators do not have a clear picture of what happened before Maes allegedly stole the car with Abel inside.
Jessica Yungkans says her cousin's focus was on her two children. Walker got sober, a good job, and was preparing to move into her own home. Yungkans says family will make sure Abel knows how much his mother loved him.
"So many pictures, so many home videos," says Yungkans. "He's going to see them all. He's going to be showered with so much love."
"We have one side of a story, but a very short part of a story," Gaines said Wednesday morning. "We don't really know why everyone was in this area. And we don't know why specifically Eric was in this area, so we'd really like to talk to him."
UPDATE: AMBER Alert Cancelled - Child Located SafeAbel Maes was located and is safe. Eric Maes is still outstanding & is considered dangerous. Anyone who sees Eric or has information regarding his location is encouraged to contact the @PeoriaPoliceAZ https://t.co/XMBgFeJO4r pic.twitter.com/lowMy3BfpY— Peoria Police (AZ) (@PeoriaPoliceAZ) February 10, 2021