A woman has been arrested and charged in connection with the disappearance of a young child in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania.
The woman, identified as 25-year-old Sharena Nancy, stands accused of taking off with 2-year-old Nalani Johnson Saturday evening, reported KDKA.
Nancy faces charges of kidnapping of a minor, interference with custody of a child, and concealment of whereabouts of a child.
The FBI told reporters that their Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team (CARD), is now involved with the investigation into her disappearance.
According to legal records, the father of the young child—who authorities say was “crying and visible (sic) upset” at the time—contacted police around 5 p.m. Saturday to report the incident.
The #FBI Child Abduction Response Deployment or CARD team is on the ground in Pittsburgh to help in the search for 2 year old Nalani Johnson. Anyone with information should call the tipline at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Read more about the CARD team here: https://t.co/EXhpNMqCXP pic.twitter.com/AUWnbVDGJd
— FBI Pittsburgh (@FBIPittsburgh) September 2, 2019
The father claims that at an intersection in Penn Hills, after getting out of a Toyota Yaris with Uber and Lyft stickers on it, Nancy, who owned and was operating the vehicle, then drove off with the young child still aboard.
A criminal complaint indicates the father tried contacting Nancy several times to no avail, after which he called 911.
Nancy was later located by police around 7:30 p.m. After being pulled over however, police were unable to find the young child or the child safety seat she had been sitting in.
During questioning by police, Nancy claimed the father of the young girl sold the child for $10,000 and that she was instructed to drive the child “20 minutes from a gas station in Monroeville along Route 22.”
Nancy says she was then flagged down by a woman standing beside a silver SUV with an out-of-state license plate. A second woman was allegedly seated in the passenger side of the car.
Nancy claims she then handed the child and safety seat off to the woman and drove back to Monroeville.
Pariss Johnson, the Aunt of Nalani’s father, rejects that claim, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“That’s not true,” she said.
A person will “say anything at that point when you’re being arrested, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fact. He’s been cleared, but again the police, we want them to come out and make a statement in regards to that.”
Nalani’s family said they remain optimistic that the young girl will be returned safe and sound.
“We’re holding up as anybody could be in this type of situation. It’s my great-niece. She’s almost 2 years old.” Ms. Johnson went on to say.
“We’re all devastated and scared because we don’t know what’s going on at this point. There’s so much speculation, and people out there really don’t know the facts.”
“We believe Nalani is OK, and we believe she will be coming home very soon. So that’s all we’re going to believe at this point,” she added.
According to missingkids.org, Nalani has black hair, brown eyes, stands about 3 feet tall, and “was last seen wearing a black shirt, a skirt with a floral design, and black sandals.”
The matter is currently under investigation, and anyone with information regarding Nalani’s whereabouts is urged to call the Allegheny County Police Tip Line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477).