FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- The suspect who took a car from a Fort Smith convenience store was found in Atkins, and the 14-year-old who was reportedly in the back seat was actually with his father and was never missing, police said Friday afternoon.
The boy's uncle, Zachary Davis, has been arrested in connection with filing a false police report. Officers working the investigation say they acted according to policy, and that there is not time to waste when it comes to a missing or kidnapped child.
Arkansas State Police issued an Amber Alert at 11:50 a.m. for the 14-year-old after Davis said he was asleep inside the car when it was stolen Friday (July 27) outside the Sally Ann convenience store in Fort Smith.
The Amber Alert was canceled at 12:50 p.m. after it was discovered that the boy was never missing.
Fort Smith police said the dad of the child, who lives in Fayetteville, saw his son's picture broadcast as being kidnapped and he immediately called Fayetteville police.
Detectives went to the home of the father and verified that the child in question was safe.
Police are now trying to uncover why Davis fabricated the story. He faces a felony charge of filing a false police report. He is free on a $10,000 bond.
Police found the 2005 red Chevrolet Malibu at the VP/McDonald's convenience store just off Interstate 40 in Atkins, Arkansas. The suspect was found with the vehicle and was arrested. He was later identified as Eldon Burton.
Police said whenever they approached Burton in the vehicle at the Atkins McDonald's they told him they were looking for a child, but he didn't know what they were talking about and that there was never a child in the vehicle.
Witnesses at the scene said they saw Burton being taken into custody. He was taken to the Pope County Jail.
Arkansas State Police and Atkins Police were on the scene at the McDonald's.
Law enforcement across the region rallied together to be on the lookout for the vehicle immediately, and credit quick action as to how they caught the suspect in the vehicle. Officers say if the child had been abducted, police would have recovered the child within two hours of him being abducted.
While police all over the region searched for the child, C.A.R.T ( Child Abduction Response Team) set up a command center with Fort Smith Police.
Everyone was in a room with maps, internet and the latest information. Teams were able to map locations where the vehicle could have traveled.
They were also able to map in real time possible locations as leads were coming in. If the child had been kidnapped police said it would have been an essential tool for bringing him home.
"We have eleven separate agencies who are a part of our C.A.R.T. team, which is a Child Abduction Response Team that is fully trained to respond to any kind of critically missing child. Every person in this room was doing what they do best," said CA.R.T member Colleen Nick.