A 6-year-old Crofton boy who police said was abducted by his father last month was found in a tiny western North Carolina town and reunited with his mother yesterday.
Swain County sheriff's deputies located Colin Jackson and arrested his father, 46-year-old David Jackson, after being tipped off by a librarian who had seen a flier of the pair e-mailed by the boy's mother, said Sheriff Curtis Cochran.
Cochran said Colin was in good shape and in good spirits after the weeks spent with his father in Bryson City, a rural town of 1,400 in the Great Smoky Mountains just south of the Tennessee border. David Jackson, who worked locally as a disc jockey, was renting a home where he was home-schooling his son, and they had been attending a Presbyterian church, he said.
"It looked like they were here to stay," Cochran said.
His mother, Cheryl Jackson, last saw her son Aug. 27, Colin's first day of first grade at Crofton Woods Elementary School. Her ex-husband, who has visitation rights, was supposed to pick up the boy from school and take him to his Crofton home for an overnight visit. But when she went to David Jackson's house the next day to pick up her son, both were gone and the home looked vacated, police said. She contacted police Sept. 3.
Cheryl Jackson, who was traveling yesterday, could not be reached for comment, but she told reporters at a news conference Monday - held just hours before Colin was found - that she believed her ex-husband was "angry" at the legal system.
"He doesn't feel he got his fair share of time with Colin," she said.
Officials said Cheryl Jackson played an integral role in spreading the word about her son's disappearance. She set up a Web site and e-mailed a poster to all of the schools, libraries and community centers in several states - efforts that apparently paid off.
"Mrs. Jackson was very proactive, and she deserves much of the credit," said Del. James King of Gambrills, who helped organize Monday's media event to seek help from the public.
Bryson City police were notified after a librarian at the Marianna Black Library recognized Colin and David Jackson from an online flier. Library Director Jeff Delfield then checked an entry about Colin's disappearance on the America's Most Wanted Web site and called authorities, Cochran said.
Sheriff's deputies and city police officers fanned out, and within 30 minutes had located them at a supermarket.
"This is a prime example of how, with community involvement, we can accomplish a whole lot," Cochran said.
David Jackson was being held on $50,000 bond at the Swain County jail awaiting extradition to Maryland. Colin spent Monday night at the home of the pastor of the church that Colin and his father had been attending, Cochran said.
Cochran said he made the boy an honorary deputy and drove him to the Asheville Regional Airport to be picked up by his mother.
"It was a great reunion - that was the highlight of our day right there," Cochran said. "Colin was the sunlight we've been looking for in our office. We gave him badges, teddy bears - everything but a gun and a car."
David Jackson had been sought on a warrant charging him with felony noncustodial abduction, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. King said he intends to toughen the penalty in the legislature.
Sgt. Sara Schriver, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, said such a prolonged abduction was rare in custody disputes and that detectives worked diligently to locate Colin.
"We wanted to send a message to parents that the detectives will take it just as seriously as a stranger kidnapping. We will leave no stone unturned," Schriver said.