SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Four months after someone stole a car with two small children inside it, a woman from Fair Grove is charged with taking the car and endangering the children. The car was stolen when the father of the children parked it in front of a business in a strip mall on Commercial Street at National Avenue and went inside, with the keys still in the ignition. Police issued an Amber Alert while they searched for the children.
Police say they got an anonymous tip on May 23 that led them to Cynthia Brown, 37, who was in the Greene County jail on unrelated charges. Detectives say they talked to Brown’s relatives, who told them she drove the car away from the store. Police then recorded some conversations between Brown and her relatives. Parts of the conversations are in the probable cause statement against Brown.
Brown told police that her husband suggested she take the car about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. After she drove away, she said she "freaked out" when she saw two children in the back seat. One child, Harmony Blue, was 13 months old and the other was a 4-year-old boy.
Car stolen with 2 children in back seat, 1:30 p.m., March 2, 2013
1107 East Commercial Street, Springfield, MO 65803, USA
Stolen car sideswiped a parked car
714 East Lynn Street, Springfield, MO 65802, USA
car thief let 4-year-old boy out of car
1213 West State Street, Springfield, MO 65806, USA
An adult found the 4-year-old boy at 1:56 p.m., Saturday, March 2
800 South Newton Avenue, Springfield, MO 65807, USA
Stolen car was found in back parking lot at 9:50 p.m., Saturday, March 2
424 West Mount Vernon Street, Springfield, MO 65806, USA
“Hi,” the boy said to her, according to the probable cause statement.
Brown said she panicked and sideswiped another car, but kept driving, according to the detective’s report. On State Street near Broadway Avenue, she let the boy, along with his father’s cellular telephone, out of the car. She told the boy to contact an adult.
An adult found the boy two or three blocks away from there, on Newton Avenue. Seven hours later, a family member found the car, with the baby girl still in the back seat, in the back parking lot of an apartment building on Mount Vernon Street near Campbell Avenue. Harmony did not appear to be harmed.
When investigators questioned the boy, he described the car thief as an “ugly white lady.”
In one recorded conversation at the jail, Brown talked to her mother.
“They are not going to get me for kidnapping, they can’t, mom. I don’t care; they already know I’m guilty. It doesn’t matter, because -- you know why? -- because, like, it was not like I said, 'Oh my God, there’s some kids; I want to kidnap them.' They’re going to end up dropping those charges to endangerment of children because I was intoxicated when I did it and they are going to get me for first-degree tampering,” Brown is recorded as saying, according to the probable cause statement..
Prosecutors charged Brown with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of first-degree tampering, a common charge associated with taking a vehicle. If she’s convicted, Brown could get seven-year prison sentences on each count. She’s also charged with leaving the scene of an accident, a misdemeanor.
In the days after the search for the stolen car and the baby, some people thought the father, Jerry Blue, should be charged for endangering the welfare of the children for leaving them in the car with the keys in the ignition. The father said he’d been out of the car only a minute when the woman took off with the car.
Other people speculated that perhaps the kidnapping was staged in the midst of some kind of family turmoil. That speculation was heightened when a family member found the stolen car with Harmony inside it before police did.
Brown has a long criminal history. Last April Fool's Day, she was charged with burglary, theft and sexual misconduct. She has other charges of stealing, assault and theft in 2013 alone. Ten years ago, she was convicted of theft. She has other convictions for driving while intoxicated, endangering the welfare of a child, and driving with a revoked license.
The probable cause statement also identifies Cynthia Brown as Cynthia Heisler and Cynthia Brown-Heisler, her married name. Online court files and the Greene County jail list her as Cynthia Brown.