PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Phoenix police now say there was never a baby girl in that truck that was stolen from a convenience store. Detectives found that the "caregiving couple" of the alleged baby fabricated the story of the kidnapping. Police say the couple wanted quicker police response to get their vehicle back from the suspects who took their truck without their permission.
Police on Thursday morning identified the suspects as Stormee Wagner, 40, and James Wagner, 37.
The 1999 Ford F-250 was stolen from a QuikTrip convenience store near Third Avenue and Indian School Road Wednesday afternoon, said Sgt. Mercedes Fortune with the Phoenix Police Department.
The Wagners initially told officers that an 18-month-old girl was in the truck at the time it was stolen. Police launched an all-out search to find her, even stating that an Amber Alert would be issued.
A couple of hours later, the truck was found in a neighborhood near 19th Avenue and Orangewood. Sgt. Fortune said officers detained the man and woman who took the truck after they were found in a nearby home. Both were said to be cooperating with police. Police have not released any information about them.
Police said the incident started around 1:30 p.m., when the Wagners and the other couple went inside the store, allegedly leaving the baby girl in the truck parked outside. That's when the other couple, who had just met the Wagners, left the store and drove off in their truck, police say.
More than 50 officers and police helicopter were involved in the search for the reported baby.
But Wednesday evening, police announced that there was never actually a baby in the truck. "After an intensive and exhaustive search for the reported 18-month-old baby, detectives have learned that the Wagners fabricated the story of the kidnapping," said Sgt. Fortune. "The couple wanted quicker police response to get their vehicle back from the suspects who took their truck without their permission."
"The resources which were used during this investigation worked tirelessly to find the alleged kidnapped baby," Fortune continued. "With the facts as we now know them, the suspects will now be arrested and booked for false reporting to law enforcement."
UPDATE: After an intensive search for the reported baby, we have learned that the "care giving couple" fabricated the story of a kidnapping. The couple wanted quicker police response to get their vehicle back from the suspects who took their truck without their permission. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/dzUWlbP6iC— Phoenix Police (@PhoenixPolice) May 13, 2021
Phoenix Police released information on social media, calling the incident an amber alert, but Arizona's Family has learned an amber alert was never issued. Sgt. Fortune said Thursday the truck was located so quickly, the department did not have a chance to reach out to DPS, the agency that issues amber alerts. Once the vehicle was found empty, investigators soon determined the kidnapping call was a hoax.
Investigators have not identified the couple accused of stealing the truck. Police say they have not been booked, but the department will submit a report to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for possible charges related to the stolen vehicle.