A Columbus, Ohio, woman is facing 20 years in prison after admitting to kidnapping two infant twins she ultimately abandoned, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Nalah T. Jackson, 25, stole a car from a pizzeria parking lot and drove away with the five-month-old twins in the back seat in December 2022, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio.
“There is no greater responsibility than protecting our youth,” US Attorney Kenneth L. Parker said in the release. “This community watched in horror as Nalah Jackson preyed on two vulnerable babies. Today, she admitted her crime and agreed to spend 20 years in prison for her actions.”
Jackson pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnapping a minor, prosecutors said.
The children’s mother, Wilhelmina Thomas, had left her black Honda Accord running while she picked up a restaurant order close to 10 p.m. on December 19. When she returned, the car, and her children, were gone.
For several hours, Jackson drove around western Ohio with the two infants in the back seat. She arrived at the Dayton International Airport around 3 a.m., went inside but then forgot where she had parked. After finding the stolen car, Jackson left one of the infants in the parking lot and drove off toIndianapolis with the other still in tow, according to court documents.
A passerby found the infant in the lot and alerted security, the release said.
Jackson arrived at a Papa John’s Pizza on Indiana Avenue around 8 a.m. on December 20, exited the car and never returned, leaving the other baby in the back seat.
The baby remained in the car seat for two-and-a-half days while the family and community members continued to look for him.
LaFonda Thomas, the grandmother of the twins, Kason and Ky’air Thomas, begged for the safe release of Kason at a vigil.
“If you look at him and you see anything, see a precious child who’s longing for his mother,” she said. “We beg you, please, please, please do the right thing and just bring my baby home.”
It was the work of two local women who eventually helped police arrest Jackson and find the missing baby.
The women recognized Jackson from a Facebook page about the kidnapping while she was selling stolen merchandise in a parking lot, the news release said.
After police officers confirmed Jackson’s identity and arrested her on suspicion of kidnapping, the two women decided to keep looking for the missing infant.
They drove through the snowy conditions for hours to no avail and eventually decided to get a bite to eat before heading home, according to the news release. There, they noticed a black Honda Accord at Papa John’s and opened the driver’s seat, which was unlocked.
“Due to an overwhelming foul smell, coming from the car, and the silence of the baby, one of the women screamed, assuming the baby was deceased. Upon hearing the scream, the baby alerted and began crying,” the news release said.
The women comforted the baby and brought him to a nearby police cruiser.
The infant was treated for dehydration, heart abnormalities due to dehydration, extreme diaper rash and skin deterioration due to being left in that car for almost three days in his own excrement.
Ky’air died one month later in a “sudden unexplained infant death,” an Ohio coroner’s office said.