Grandmother of kidnapped Austin 2-year-old speaks with FOX 7
A happy ending to a very stressful 24 hours...
Katy Kappel brought her 2-year-old granddaughter Cheyenne Johnson back home to Austin Saturday afternoon.
"I just wanted to thank APD for being so quick about getting the information out so that they can find them. And the Harris County Sheriff's Department did a great job. They talked to him for 2 hours and managed to get the child out of the car and nobody was hurt," Kappel said.
Jesse Thomas is Cheyenne's father. Police say his parental rights were terminated in court Friday. Kappel was awarded full custody.
In response, police say Thomas broke through the back door of his own mother's home on Anita Drive and kidnapped his daughter -- sparking an Amber Alert and a long night for law enforcement in Austin and Houston -- trying to catch the man Austin Police described as "aggressive."
"Particularly we had at least 3 pursuits that we know of in the Houston area involving this suspect. Each one of those pursuits reached speeds of over 100 miles an hour. At night, he would turn his headlights off and put himself, that child and the public in grave danger with his actions," said Detective JJ Schmidt with Austin Police.
Thankfully, Kappel says Cheyenne wasn't hurt.
"She's fine! She's fine. She's a very cheerful, upbeat kid. She was glad to see me though weren't you? Yep," Kappel said to her granddaughter.
Once State Troopers finally managed to stop Thomas in Houston, the Harris County Sheriff's Department was called in to help.
Deputy Thomas Gilliland says once the suspect agreed to give up his daughter, law enforcement took action.
"When that child was out of danger, our HOU operators then tased him simultaneously and also shot him with a 40 millimeter less-than-lethal munition. Which incapacitated him and at that point he was taken into custody," Gilliland said.
Kappel says her son Jesse was homeless and couldn't take care of Cheyenne -- and she says Cheyenne's mother is in drug rehab and won't be available until March. Kappel says she hopes one of them can take care of Cheyenne next year...even her son.
"Yeah if he gets some help and he gets a job and he can support and take care of her, yeah," Kappel said.
Kappel says her son was distraught for many reasons.
"Well I had been telling him I thought he needed to get some counseling and I guess he's gonna be in jail now and I don't know that they're going to offer him much of anything but....I...like any mother I would just like my child to be happy. You know and I'm sad that that's not happening right now," she said.
APD says they've executed their warrant for the initial burglary with a $500,000 bond.
DPS arrested Thomas for a charge of endangering a child, and they say kidnapping charges are on the way.