Raeford, N.C. — The mother of a 12-year-old Raeford boy who was the subject of a statewide Amber Alert Thursday said she had been home with the boy for several hours and had no idea about the alert and that authorities were looking for them.
"I was watching TV, and my son just freaked out because of the fact that our name was going across the bottom of it," Karen Gardner Joyce said from her home Thursday night, about three hours after the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons issued the alert for her son, Pacen Ryan.
The Hoke County Sheriff's Office had identified Joyce as the abductor of her son in the alert. The two were last seen at her home at 175 Secretariat Court in Raeford Thursday.
But Joyce told a WRAL News crew that knocked on her door around 10:30 p.m. that she picked up her son from school and took him to the doctor before returning home around 5:30 p.m.
She said no sheriff's deputies had been to the home, and she was completely unaware of the Amber Alert until she saw it on the news.
Joyce appeared to be in shock and confused, WRAL News reporter Bruce Mildwurf said.
"She was angry, wondering why the police, sheriff's office, the state would publicize this and never come to the house," Mildwurf said.
"I was confused as to why there was an Amber Alert when the person they were looking for was home the whole time," he added. "The car they said they were looking for was in the garage."
In trying to get answers, Mildwurf said he called the sheriff's office.
"I've said, 'I've spoken to the mother,'" he said.
Less than 20 minutes later, deputies arrived at the home and took Joyce into custody. Pacen was taken into custody by Hoke County Child Protective Services.
It's unclear if authorities ever checked Joyce's home or why the Amber Alert was issued.
The sheriff's office did say Thursday night, however, that neither Joyce nor the boy's father had custody of him. But investigators were unsure who did.
"The child is mine, legally mine. I can't abduct my own child," she said, adding that he lives with her.
Joyce said after authorities arrived to her home that Child Protective Services wants her to have a mental evaluation.