JACKSON TWP. – Ana Grace Burke has been reunited with her family.
The 5-year-old Jackson Township girl who had been kidnapped Thursday in Stark County was found unharmed Friday night in Illinois with the man accused of abducting her. Her father drove to Illinois to bring her home Saturday.
Ana Grace’s grandmother, Cindy Ungart of Perry Township, said her entire family is “100% relieved” that she was discovered alive by law enforcement in the suspect’s van just west of Bloomington, Illinois.
Jonathan Lee Stinnett, 36, a neighbor, was taken into custody without incident. He was arrested on warrants for kidnapping and abduction. He is being held at the McLean County Jail and is expected to be extradited to Ohio to face charges.
It’s still unclear why Stinnett took the girl.
Ungart said it appeared that Ana had not been harmed.
Ana Grace Burke: What is an Amber Alert and when are they issued?
“It just took us … time to come down from the tension and the stress. We kind of collapsed last night, sleeping. We’re just thrilled now,” she said.
Ungart added that the abduction took place about five days after Ana Grace’s mom, her daughter, had given birth to another girl.
Ungart said the Ana Grace was playing the road trip game “I Spy” with her dad as they made the more than seven-hour journey back home.
Stinnett, a neighbor of the girl’s parents in Jackson Township at Quail Hollow Apartments, disappeared with Ana Grace about 6:15 p.m. Thursday from the Goodwill store at 7257 Fulton St. NW on Wales Avenue NW. He told the other person he was with that he taking her to use the restroom at the nearby McDonald’s but they never returned.
Ana Grace’s mom and her mom’s boyfriend had entrusted Stinnett and another person to watch the girl, according to an emergency phone call to police by the boyfriend made at 7:33 p.m. Thursday.
Police issued a news release about 11:40 p.m. Thursday regarding the missing girl and man, followed by an endangered child advisory — not an Amber Alert — at 12:20 a.m. Friday.
An Amber Alert was issued after 2 p.m. Friday. Jackson Township Police Major Jim Monigold said the Ohio Watch Desk, which oversees Amber Alerts in Ohio, determined the case did not initially meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.
Ungart released a statement by Ana Grace’s mother, who the family asked not be identified by name.
“I am beyond thankful for law enforcement and the FBI’s help,” she said. “They were extremely fast and efficient with finding my daughter.”
The statement also praised Jackson Township police “as a whole for their amazing work in this very hard time for me.”
FBI considering federal charges
FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Todd Krajeck, who’s based in the Cleveland FBI office, said federal prosecutors after a discussion with local prosecutors will consider whether to file federal charges against Stinnett.
He said FBI agents based in Illinois assisted with the investigation, but he declined to discuss specifics such as whether they spoke with the suspect.
What happened in Illinois?
McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage on Saturday released an account of what happened on his office’s Facebook page.
He said shortly before 7:30 p.m. Friday, someone reported a suspicious silver van parked on an entrance to a field in Dale Township, a rural area west of Bloomington. It’s not clear if the person who made the report was aware of an Amber Alert.
Police officers from the nearby village of Stanford were the first to respond. They entered the license plate number on the vehicle as part of a search of a criminal database. They found that the vehicle was linked to arrest warrants charging Stinnett to a kidnapping charge and an active Amber Alert requested by Jackson Township police.
The officers saw a man, they later identified as Stinnett apparently sleeping in the driver’s seat of the van. They found a girl, later identified as Ana Grace in the rear passenger area.
The Stanford officers said they were able to arrest Stinnett without any resistance or confrontation. Deputies from McLean County and an officer from the nearby village of Danvers soon arrived at the scene. They said they safely got the girl out of the vehicle and an ambulance took her to OSF Medical Center in Bloomington for an evaluation.
The statement indicated that law enforcement officers interviewed Stinnett at the McLean County Sheriff’s office.
Speaking at a news conference Saturday afternoon, Monigold declined to say whether Stinnett gave a statement to officers in Illinois.
Monigold said that surveillance cameras captured images of Stinnett and his vehicle at a gas station in Danville, Ohio, around 8 p.m. Thursday. Danville police, who apparently acted on a tip, provided the images to Jackson Township police Friday night. Danville is 32 miles southwest of Wooster and not on the way to Bloomington, Illinois. It’s unclear why Stinnett went there.
Monigold declined to discuss what may have been Stinnett’s motives and what his destination was.
The FBI, the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Ohio Highway Patrol became involved in the search.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Jackson Township girl back with her family after kidnapping