Wisconsin Rapids Police say Amber Alert delay due to not having all required issuing elements

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - A 28-year-old woman and 36-year-old man, both from Wisconsin Rapids, are in the Columbia County Jail after police said their actions prompted an Amber Alert.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Department reports an Amber Alert was issued after a 2-month boy was abducted by his non-custodial mother, Haley Pelot.

Wisconsin Rapids Police said they attempted to make contact with Pelot on Aug. 4 to verify her child’s wellbeing. Police said she spotted officers and got into a car. Officers began to pursue the vehicle but stopped because they believed the baby was in the car. Police said Pelot also threatened to harm the baby.

However, police did not issue an Amber Alert until around noon on Thursday. Sgt. Jordan Lubeck from the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department says there are three elements needed in order for an agency to issue an alert. The individual has to be a person 17-years-old or younger, and law enforcement has to have enough descriptive evidence about the child, suspect, and/or the vehicle. Lubeck said they did not have the last element until Thursday.

“There has to be an immediate danger of either serious bodily injury or death to that child. Being that the child was without its medication, or we had information believing that the child was without its medication, that’s what essentially escalated this to an Amber Alert,” he explained, adding without his medication given the prescribed amount each day, it could threaten the child’s life.

During the search for the baby, a Columbia County Deputy found the suspect’s vehicle in the village of Rio. This vehicle had been spray painted, the plates removed and different license plates were attached, and other attempts of disguising the vehicle were made.

Columbia County deputies, Rio police officers, and DCI Special Agents started searching apartments and residences in the area. After clearing numerous apartments and finding no infant or the suspects, law enforcement officers finally found them in a different apartment in Rio. Investigators said the suspects were not cooperative and would come out of the apartment. Deputies said Nicholas Hope, 36 said he had a gun and demanded law enforcement leave the residence. Law Enforcement Officers could see the infant and the suspects in the apartment, but they would not come out.

A Columbia County Sheriff’s Office negotiator talked to the suspects and deescalated the situation. After about 30 minutes of negotiations, both suspects surrendered and were taken into custody. A handgun was found and recovered as evidence.

The infant was found and as a precaution was given medical attention. He was later taken to a local hospital. The baby is currently safe and in the custody of child protective services.

“We are grateful that the baby was found safe. I am thankful for the efforts of numerous law enforcement agencies to find this baby. This is another example of great police teamwork between state and local law enforcement agencies,” said Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brandner.

Both Hope and Pelot remain in the Columbia County Jail. Another woman Sonja Lawless, 32, was arrested for aiding a felon.

Wood County Human Services’ deputy director, Mary Solheim told NewsChannel 7 they cannot legally acknowledge whether a child is in their custody, so she could not speak to the condition of the child or whether they have custody of Pelot’s other child. She noted, however, that when something like an Amber Alert happens it shows that child abuse and neglect happen in their community. She said a lot of people say they are willing to help in these situations, and she noted they have a need for foster families and other assistance when a child comes into their care. For details about how to help, click here or look to your local social services department.

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