Man in custody, woman identified, suspected of stealing car with little girl inside

TONGANOXIE, Kan. -- A little girl is safe and some terrifying moments are over on Wednesday night after the 3-year-old was taken when her family car was stolen at a Kansas City, Kan., gas station. The little girl was asleep in the car at about 6:30 p.m. when a woman got in the driver's seat and sped away from the Valero at 7th and Riverview.

It was a heart-wrenching saga for a metro man.

Police say he pulled up to a pump at the gas station with his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in the back seat. Investigators say the man left his car running, dashed inside the business to buy a cold drink for the child, and within minutes, a female suspect caught on surveillance video bought some items, walked outside and handed her male accomplice some items, and the investigators say the woman hopped in the silver Ford Focus.

Police say she quickly drove off with the little girl still in the back seat, and they say the male suspect took off in another direction down 7th Street in a white commercial truck.

"It was a busy situation. Obviously when you handle a child abduction, we're wanting to locate that child as soon as we could," Officer Patrick McCallop said.

Police cordoned off the Valero gas station, quickly released surveillance of the two suspects to the media, and shortly after investigators say the driver of the missing silver car's cell phone pinged several miles away in Leavenworth County.

Several tips from the public poured in and police say they found the missing girl safe near the abandoned vehicle in a rural area of Tonganoxie.

"Just ask everyone to be careful leaving your child, or any animals, or whatever. Like I said this came out, locating the child at this time. We're thankful we did," Officer McCallop said.

FOX 4's Dave D'Marko and photojournalist Brian Burkett were first on the scene when that little girl was found near 190th and Evans where a large crime scene was taped off. Across from Camp Tongawood there were cops, deputies, and agents from about a half-dozen agencies going around the area searching for the suspects.

The little girl was carried from the silver car to an ambulance to be checked out. She had a water bottle, and appeared to be in good spirits at that point as she was being cared for by law enforcement, she was taken to a hospital as a precaution. FOX 4 was actually with KCK police near Linwood as they were searching creek banks when the call came in that a helicopter had spotted the car and the girl was still inside.

Late Thursday morning, police tweeted the news that they had arrested the male suspect in Tonganoxie. By late Thursday afternoon they said they had identified the female suspect, but had not yet arrested her.

If you know her or know where she is, call your local law enforcement agency. FOX 4 knows the child's name, but right now we're not releasing it because police say they're still trying to make contact with her biological father.