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Officials: Location of missing 5-year-old is safe

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated. Read the latest story here.

A 5-year-old Smith County child went missing on Sunday but was found safely on Monday afternoon, according to local authorities. Local law enforcement was concerned about the mental health of the woman he was last seen with, leading them to believe that he might be in danger.

Zachariah Sutton went missing around 3am Monday after he failed to return home to his home in Overton after shopping with family friend Pamala Medlock. On Monday, at about 12:15 p.m., law enforcement agencies reported finding him. According to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office sergeant, Zachariah and Medlock were in Mitchell County near Colorado City, heading west on I-20. Larry Christian.

The baby is “safe and seems unharmed,” Christian said. County investigators traveled to Mitchell County after they found him.

Before he was found, the family last saw Zacharias at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Christian said. The Texas Department of Public Safety issued an AMBER Alert around 7 a.m. Monday, naming the child kidnapping case with Medlock as a suspect. It was canceled as soon as the child was found.

Christian said Zachariah’s grandmother, who is his legal guardian, allowed Medlock, 59, to take him out of the house to buy toys. Neither was seen at the time, but the camera footage gave investigators a few clues.

Authorities believe that Zacharias may have been in danger due to Medlock’s mental state, Christian said during a press conference on Monday morning. Law enforcement officials in Rusk, Gregg and Smith counties report that Medlock had a history of drug use and possible mental health issues. The family did not speak of any mental or drug problems and did not have any red flags about Medlock until Monday morning, according to the Smith County Sergeant. Jason Railsback.

“Just to be clear, we do not currently believe that Ms. Medlock will harm a child,” Christian said during a press conference. “It’s more of an indirect thing that she could drag him into, especially if she does have some kind of episode, and even with past drug use, I don’t know what her thoughts would be.”

According to Christian, Zachariah’s birthday was just a few days ago, and the family said Medlock wanted to buy him presents. This was not unusual, as Medlock has been friends with the family for several years and often spends time at home. She used to take Zacharias shopping, help with homework and other basic things, according to Railsback, who heads the sheriff’s office for crimes against the person.

Pamala Medlock

Camera footage showed Zachariah and Medlock at a Troup Highway Walmart store between 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm on Sunday, about 12 hours before the child was officially reported missing to law enforcement. The footage shows the couple entering the store at 2:41 p.m. and also exiting together after shopping and shopping for toys.

The footage shows the two walking around the store with normal manners, according to Railsbuck, who said Walmart didn’t see any red flags in the interactions and said Zacharias didn’t appear scared or upset at the time.

The camera footage also showed a photo of a black Jeep, which the Smith County Sheriff’s Office says is a suspect vehicle, in a Walmart parking lot. Additionally, the vehicle was seen around 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Kaufman County heading west towards Dallas on Interstate 20.

Later, according to Christian, the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office spotted the vehicle heading west on I-20 near Colorado City around noon.

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Although the AMBER alert did not come through until 7 a.m., Zachariah’s grandmother reported the incident to law enforcement around 3 a.m., when investigators were actively looking for the child.

According to Railsbuck, the grandmother did not report this to the police sooner due to the nature of Medlock and Zachariah’s relationship. Since Zachariah had dated Medlock in the past and she was a close family friend, his guardians had no reason to be concerned.

But the day went on, and from Medlock, who has no cell phone, and there was no news, the family began to worry.

“I believe it was one of those things where they didn’t think it could happen to them, so they waited for time to pass and eventually the grandson would come back, which turned out not to be a fact, they didn’t sleep until then. while waiting around 3 a.m. for this to happen and decided to call law enforcement to get us on,” Railsbuck said.

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According to the district, Zachariah is a student at Arp ISD Elementary School. The county sent out an alert to the community and asked for prayers for a safe and speedy recovery.

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If you have any information about the case, please contact the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at (903) 566-6600.

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