Missing baby Alyssa is found
CHARLES ANDERSON, NEIL REID AND VICTORIA ROBINSON
A missing toddler was last night reunited with her parents after a desperate 36-hour search for her and her alleged abductor.
A woman responded to a nationwide appeal on Alyssa Barker's abduction after seeing pleas on last night's news and called police when her alleged kidnapper fell asleep.
Alyssa was taken from her Makudhrau home, near Kaukapakapa, north of Auckland, on Friday afternoon allegedly by Skye Mason, 27, who had been sleeping rough before being taken in by the toddler's good samaritan parents.
Another good samaritan in Swanson, West Auckland, took the pair in last night, and was responsible for reuniting the toddler with her family.
She watched the 6pm news last night and recognised the woman and child who were staying with her as Mason and Alyssa.
The woman waited until they were asleep and called the police at 9.15pm to notify them.
Alyssa was last night reunited with her parents, and 27-year-old Mason has been taken into police custody.
Police who attended the Swanson address say Alyssa is well and doesn't seem to be suffering any ill-effects as a result of her 36-hour absence from her home.
Detective Inspector Stan Brown of Waitakere Police said he and his staff were delighted to be able to return Alyssa to her family and very grateful to media for their support during what was a nervous search.
"This is one story that does not have a tragic end for a child and for that, we are very happy."
The toddler was moved around the Auckland area by her abductor, beginning in her home in Makudhrau, then was spotted 50km away in Glen Eden.
The Swanson home where she was finally found was another 10kms away.
Uniformed officers and about 30 search and rescue staff yesterday carried out door-to-door inquiries in Auckland, and also called in the Eagle and Westpac rescue helicopters in their search for the pair.
They were seen leaving the Makudhrau property about 3pm on Friday, and police said they had no idea how they travelled to Glen Eden, where seven hours later they visited the home of one of Mason's friends.
Police were called, but the pair had gone by the time they arrived at the property, and they had been unable to confirm a later sighting at Riverhead, north of Auckland.
Mason was living rough in the Rodney/Orewa area north of Auckland when Alyssa's family took her in. She stayed two days before vanishing with the toddler.
Alyssa's mother - who also has a three-month-old - was in the house when Mason, who has no immediate access to a car but has a small amount of money, left. Police have confirmed Mason has a history of mental illness and a small criminal history.
"She had been living a little bit rough and this family had taken her in for the last couple of days to try and look after her," Brown said. "They thought they were doing the right thing."
People who knew Mason about five years ago yesterday told the Sunday Star-Times she had been a good mother who took courses to try and improve her parenting, but had drifted into P use.
Last night Child, Youth and Family operations general manager Marama Edwards said Mason's own children were safe and well. "Our primary concern is for the safety and wellbeing of this little girl, and we urge Skye to return her safely - and to do it immediately."
Last night the father of Coral Burrows, who endured 10 days before his missing daughter was tragically found, pleaded to Mason to take Alyssa home.
Ron Burrows said it was every parent's nightmare. "Hand her back, I beg you," he said. "There is nothing worse than having your baby taken away. It is the ultimate nightmare." He said Alyssa's parents had tried to help someone out of the goodness of their hearts. "And then she has gone and done the unthinkable. I hate to think what they are going through. My heart goes out to them, but everyone is out there looking and the main thing is that everyone keeps an eye out for her."
Burrows said he had endured heartbreak when his six-year-old vanished from her home in the Wairarapa town of Featherston in 2003.
Coral's body was found 10 days later, and her stepfather, Steven Williams, was later convicted of her murder.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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