The family of a toddler abducted for 36 hours have spoken of their frantic night as police launched an unprecedented search for the girl.
17-month-old Alyssa Barker was found last night after a member of the public reported her and her alleged kidnapper, Skye Mason, at a west Auckland address.
Alyssa's parents Scott and Sam Barker today thanked all involved in the search for their daughter and spoke of their huge relief at getting their daughter back.
Sam Barker said she was looking after her younger baby Kashine when Mason and her daughter were walking around outside their house, in sight, on Friday afternoon.
They went round a bend in the driveway and disappeared, she said.
Police were called and the Barkers spent a sleepless night after Mason and Alyssa were spotted in Glen Eden.
"It rips your heart out," Scott Barker said.
"Have they fallen down a bank, hiding in a bush?"
Sam Barker said she was angry Mason thought it was ok to take someone else's child.
Detective Sergeant Murray Free said police became worried because Friday night was so cold and Mason had been sleeping rough until the Barker family took her in.
Police from all over Auckland descended on the area along with Search and Rescue teams and the unprecedented step was taken of advertising the disappearance on motorway traffic signs throughout Auckland and the surrounding area.
The woman who alerted police waited until the pair was asleep before she called the police at 9.15pm to notify them of her house guests.
Alyssa was reunited with her parents at hospital late last night.
"She was just sitting on her hospital bed, having her photo taken," Scott Barker said.
The little girl was showing no ill-effects from her adventure.
She happily sat on reporters' knees at a press conference today and smiled and laughed without a care in the world.
Her mum said she did not think her daughter knew she had been through an ordeal.
Seeing her unhurt made her feel one thing, she said - "relief" - "it was so unexpected - just relief".
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."
Mason will appear in court tomorrow charged with abducting a child.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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