CINCINNATI -- An 18-day-old girl who was reportedly taken in the back seat of a stolen car Thursday morning was actually with her mother and a friend the whole time, Cincinnati police said.
The mom's lie set off an expensive search that used "a tremendous amount" of Cincinnati police resources and even drew assistance from federal agencies, Lt. Steve Saunders said.
The red 2003 Ford Focus was taken from Hopkins Street at 7:06 a.m. Thursday, setting off the search for the baby girl. The mom, 28-year-old Nacole Benton, told police she put the girl in the car and turned to get her other two children. When she turned back around, she saw the car being driven away toward Linn Street, she claimed.
However, Saunders said Benton actually snuck out the back of the house while police were investigating. She took a taxi to a friend's house and brought the baby back, claiming it had been found safe, police said.
The stolen car crashed into a tree on Prosperity Place near Western Hills High School around 8:20 a.m. Police took three juvenile suspects into custody after a foot chase. Another juvenile was arrested on Hopkins Street near where the car had been stolen.
Police continued their investigation at the nearby Walmart store on Ferguson Road after a tip suggested the infant may be there, but nothing was there.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the baby was recovered after more than two hours of searching.
Saunders said he wasn't sure why Benton lied about the baby, but the taxi company confirmed they had brought her and the baby home from her friend's house.
"This has been a very trying day...We put all of our resources within the Cincinnati Police Department...into trying to locate this child," Saunders said.
Benton was charged with obstructing official business, making false alarm and inducing panic.
One 15-year-old was charged with theft of a motor vehicle, according to police records. Saunders said another was being charged with receiving stolen property.
The infant and two other children were being placed with child protective services.