The Maries County Sheriff’s Office initiated its first ever AMBER Alert last Thursday afternoon at 3:38 p.m. after receiving a report that a pregnant woman and her baby had been abducted by a …
The Maries County Sheriff’s Office initiated its first ever AMBER Alert last Thursday afternoon at 3:38 p.m. after receiving a report that a pregnant woman and her baby had been abducted by a man in a black truck.
Law enforcement agencies in this area worked with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the FBI, and a sheriff’s office in Arkansas to determine the truth in the case, which they learned at about 7 p.m. that evening. The mom and child were safe and had not been abducted but had left the county on her own free will.
Allison Summerford, 22, of Vienna, and her young son, Dominque Summerford, age 11 months, were found safe at Burger King in Rolla, which is located in front of the bus terminal on Kingshighway.
Maries County Sheriff’s Lt. Scott John told the story of how the four hours of crime investigation proceeded l Aug. 1. The county’s 911 Dispatch Center received a call from a citizen who is a neighbor to the Summerford family, Leonard Ewers, who reported a female and her child had been abducted from their home on Maries County Road 213 by a man driving a dark GMC or Chevrolet full sized truck with tires stacked in the truck’s bed.
Sheriff’s Deputies Mark Morgan and Detective Ken Kilmer responded, searching the area for the truck and its occupants.
John went to the home on MCR 213 and found out the alleged incident had taken place about 45 minutes before the call came in to the 911 Dispatch Center.
“They had a forty-five minute head start on us,” John said. He spoke with a 16-year-old male who said he was the one who waved down Ewers who was driving by on a four-wheeler. The youth said he did not have a phone so Ewers made the call to 911 for him.
The youth told John he saw a male suspect come to the door of the residence, which Summerford had locked. The man, he said, dragged Summerford by the hair and threw her in the truck. He also took the 11-month-old and a suitcase Summerford was said to be living out of. The youth said it was not the child’s father who had pulled Summerford out of the house, but a man he’d never seen before.
Also, he said there was someone else in the truck but he could not see who it was because of the tinted windows but suspected it to be the baby’s father, Terrioun Frye. Frye was initially identified as the suspect in the abduction but his photograph and name were removed from the AMBER Alert within an hour of the first reporting of the incident.
The youth said he was by the barn and when he began to approach the scene the man flashed a gun at him so he stayed away.
John said they had a description of the truck, of the man, the name of the father, information on the victims and that a firearm was present and violence had been used. This met the criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert —or America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response.
Shane Sweno, who was on duty at the county’s 911 Dispatch Center, contacted Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop F and patrol officials said it met the criteria and issued the AMBER Alert at 3:38 p.m.
John said by the time the AMBER Alert was issued, about an hour had passed. They began to dig into the details of the case. The deputies quickly found holes in the youth’s story and were suspicious but noted he was young and was “rattled” as they questioned him.
The Phelps County Sheriff’s Office and Rolla police were contacted for help and they began looking for the vehicle coming through Rolla and Phelps County.
Jay Summerford, Allison’s father, told them she had a doctor’s appointment that day in Rolla and Rolla police checked on this lead, searching the area of the doctor’s office near the hospital.
The sheriff’s office used Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) to get information about where the victims might be using a cell phone so they could do a carrier emergency ping. However, they found out it was an internet service application that was used called textnow, and not a cell phone so were unable to get a location on the phone.
John said they knew the child’s father had at one time been arrested in Drew County, Ark. The sheriff’s office there was contacted they were told he was incarcerated in Arkansas.
John said the youth’s story began to fall apart.
Summerford’s mother called and said she had sent her daughter money using the Walmart to Walmart wire service. The money was for Summerford to buy a bus ticket to travel to her. Summerford, the deputies were told, did not know anyone in Vienna and was not happy here.
The youth’s story continued to crumble and he was interviewed again by sheriff’s deputies. John said he “stuck to his story.”
Rolla police went to Walmart and the bus station looking for Summerford and the baby.
Then, John received a call from the man who was driving the dark pickup truck. He had seen the AMBER Alert and called to say Summerford and the baby were not abducted and the story put out was not what happened.
Sheriff Chris Heitman spoke to the man, identified as Albert Brame of Steelville, who said he met Summerford on a dating app and she asked for his help getting her to the bus station. They had made a bargain for the type of payment, which was met, and he agreed to help her.
Brame took Summerford and baby to Walmart to get the money and then to the bus station behind Burger King. Rolla police found Summerford and her son at Burger King. She said she waved down a guy and asked him to take her to Rolla so she could get on a bus to take her to Arkansas where her mother lived.
Brame came in for questioning and John said he cooperated completely and was released without charges. Deputy Erican Sugg went to Rolla to get Summerford and her son.
The youth who reported the abduction was questioned at the sheriff’s office with a juvenile officer present.
The youth stuck to his story until about 7 p.m. when he admitted the story was made up. Summerford also was questioned and at first lied about the abduction but later admitted she made up the story and convinced her brother to go along with it.
She reportedly intended to take the baby to Arkansas and used the story about an abduction to distract her father to give her enough time to get away. Summerford was arrested that night and was held in the Maries County Jail until about 6 p.m. Friday when she was released.
John said they are seeking a charge of making a false statement, a class A misdemeanor. Information about the juvenile’s involvement was shared with the juvenile office.
Heitman said the 911 center was overwhelmed with calls. He and Sweno received over 150 calls within 30 minutes. The calls were from people throughout the state, and even from other states, who said they’d seen the truck with the victims inside.
Ironically, one call was from a woman who was at the Burger King in Rolla who told them “she’s standing right here.”
Heitman said at one time, he had to call back the FBI and had to hang up on a call to get an outside line.
“It was a good response, but overwhelming to answer with four to five lines,” he said, adding if the crisis had gone on much longer, they would have had to bring in a mobile command unit and shut down the street outside the courthouse.
“It would have required a lot of resources.” He said he feels “very lucky” with the result.
Sheriff’s staff have recently received training used in this situation. Other law enforcement agencies were quick to help once the AMBER Alert was issued and the incident was resolved quickly.
Heitman, who began a career in law enforcement as a dispatcher/jailer, said this incident was the most overwhelming he’s ever seen. He thinks it was a waste of resources for an unnecessary investigation. Restitution could be sought from Summerford.
He said Summerford said she was sorry for causing the commotion.