Originally created 11/29/03

Father returns 9-month-old



LOUISVILLE, Ga. - It was a happy Thanksgiving after all for a Louisville mother whose 9-month-old daughter was taken Nov. 21 by her father, who did not have custody rights.

The mother and a Jefferson County sheriff's investigator traveled to Idaho on Wednesday to recover the child at an arranged meeting. A charge of kidnapping is pending against 21-year-old Augusta resident Joseph Paul Bradley, who police say did not return the child to her mother.

The mother had agreed to allow the child to accompany Mr. Bradley and his aunt, Augusta resident Janice Johnson, to Ms. Johnson's family reunion in Portal, Ga., on Nov. 21. Mr. Bradley and the child never went to the reunion, and traveled instead to the home of relatives in Idaho.

Ms. Johnson, 44, also faces a pending charge of kidnapping. She was arrested Monday and booked into Jefferson County Jail after trying to conceal facts during an interview with sheriff's investigators and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents, Investigator Clark Hiebert said.

Investigator Hiebert accompanied the mother to Idaho to take custody of the child. Mr. Bradley's relatives were waiting for them at the airport, where the mother was reunited with her daughter. Mr. Bradley arrived moments later with the child's clothes.

Mother and child arrived in Louisville early Friday to a reception of family members waiting in the front yard. For them, Thanksgiving was observed one day late, said Sheriff Gary Hutchins. But the wait was worth it.

"It was a happy ending," Sheriff Hutchins said. "Our concern was to make sure we got the baby back."