Originally created 06/17/04

Toddler who was reported kidnapped from car is found safe in hometown after phone tip



COLUMBUS, Ga. -- A 2-year-old boy who was reported kidnapped in a carjacking and held for a $100,000 ransom was found safe Thursday outside a gas station in his hometown, authorities said.

Police said they were tipped to Tellious Brown's whereabouts by an anonymous caller soon after his mother pleaded for his return at a news conference. No ransom was paid, said a law enforcement source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Any suspects had fled before police arrived to pick up the boy, Maj. Russell Traino said.

The boy's mother, 24-year-old Lakendra Trice, told police that she and her son were getting out of a car Wednesday night when two men pulled a gun on her and drove off with the child still in the car. Police found the car a half-hour later, empty.

The boy's family said the kidnappers later contacted them with a demand for $100,000, the law enforcement source said.

FBI agent Jeff Hurley said the kidnappers apparently dropped off the child at a gas station.

"I think maybe the combination of the news conference and the pressure got to them, and they decided to the right thing and release the child," Hurley said.

Trice was reunited her son Thursday afternoon, and an officer gave the boy a white teddy bear. The boy's father, also named Tellious Brown, said: "We're very happy to have him back."

Trice's mother, Rhonda Grant, said that the kidnapping happened in the driveway of her home, and that Trice told her she did not recognize the gunmen.

Columbus is 95 miles south of Atlanta, near the Alabama line.