Surveillance cameras in Florida and Georgia spotted a 4-year-old girl in the hours after a family friend allegedly kidnapped the child from her home in central Florida, investigators said.
The sheriff of Polk County, Florida released video Monday from a McDonald’s near the child’s home in Lakeland.
It appeared to show Rebecca Lewis at the counter Saturday with a man named West Wild Hogs. Another camera captured them that evening at a gas station in Forsyth, Georgia.
The pair also may have been spotted at Cove Lake State Park in Campbell County, Tenn., on Sunday night, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky each issued Amber Alerts for the girl.
Hogs, who changed his name from Matthew Clark Pybus, was a family friend and hadn’t seen the girl in several years, according to the Sentinel. Several agencies had been looking for him on kidnapping charges. He reportedly drove off with the child in a car he stole from his mother in Alabama, according to al.com.
The girl was seen on the gas station surveillance footage wearing a pink dress and multicolored pants. Hogs was wearing a collared shirt and blue jeans.
A 16-year-old sister says she saw Rebecca sleeping about 9 a.m. but when she woke up again 45 minutes later, she was gone.
The FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Polk County officers are searching for the pair. A $3,000 reward has been offered for information about the Hogs and the toddler.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Scott Wilder said it was still unclear why Hogs took Lewis.
“The whole family is pretty torn up and very emotional. They just want to know why because they don’t understand why he would have taken her,” he said.
The paper reported that Hogs has no known criminal history and authorities have no information to suspect that Hogs would hurt the girl.
We haven’t found any specific threat against the family or the child or found any reason to believe he’ll harm her, but we don’t know. We’re of course very concerned and will be until she’s found safe and brought back home,” Wilder said.
Hogs’ mother had been good friends with the girl’s grandmother for years and Hogs knew her parents and had spent some time with them in the past. Hogs was near Lakeland on Friday asking where Rebecca’s parents were living, Wilder said. That’s when Hogs’ mother made the connection.
Authorities said it doesn’t look like Hogs broke in to take Rebecca and that he could’ve called out for her. They said Rebecca is a friendly toddler who warms up to people quickly.
According to Fox 13 News, Rebecca’s parents Luther Lewis and Melissa Schell addressed reporters and Hogs directly.
“Matt we’re not mad at you. Let her come home. She’s my baby and I’m worried sick about her please I’m begging,” Lewis said.