Local News

Father Arrested After Amber Alert

Posted May 2, 2007

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— A Chatham County man surrendered to police Wednesday morning, several hours after an Amber Alert was issued for him and his 8-year-old son.

Kenneth Paul Fitzpatrick and his son, Jose Angel Fitzpatrick, apparently spent the night with their pastor, police said.

The father surrendered to police at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, and his son was placed in the custody of the Chatham County Department of Social Services.

Authorities are trying to track down the boy's mother, who they believe lives in Mexico. They also are trying to assess Kenneth Fitzpatrick's immigration status.

Kenneth Fitzpatrick was charged with kidnapping, felony child abuse and providing false information to police. He is being held in the Chatham County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

DSS began investigating allegations of child abuse against Kenneth Fitzpatrick last week, and case workers last saw Jose on Friday evening, police said.

Jose, a second-grader at Siler City Elementary School, wasn't at school earlier this week, officials said.

Police said they feared Kenneth Fitzpatrick had taken off with his son because of a court order requiring him to give up custody of the boy pending the outcome of the investigation.

"We were getting ready to remove the child from the house because of an incident of (Fitzpatrick) abusing his son," Siler City Police Chief Gay Tyson said.

When officers showed up at the Fitzpatrick home Tuesday, Kenneth Fitzpatrick told them his son was flying to El Paso, Texas, with an aunt. Police later determined that story to be false, and when they went back to the house, both father and son were missing.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, family members called social services and said they had been in contact with the father and son by phone but they didn't know their whereabouts.

Police then issued the Amber Alert and warrants against the father.

Kenneth Fitzpatrick's sister called him early Wednesday from El Paso and convinced him to surrender, Tyson said.

"I would say she was the main piece of the puzzle that allowed us to piece this together and bring this to a happy ending," he said.

Kenneth Fitzpatrick, 39, also goes by the name Sanford Kenneth Chappell. A search of his home turned up a Mexican passport and various identification documents with different names, police said. His car is registered in Washington state, and his North Carolina driver's license listed a Durham address, police said.

Seven years ago, he was charged with third-degree child abuse in El Paso, but the case was dismissed because the family moved to North Carolina, authorities said. His sister told WRAL the charges involved his stepdaughter and were dropped because

Last December, the Orange Count y Sheriff's Department initiated an investigation into a child abuse allegation against him, but again, no charges were brought because the family moved, authorities said.

His sister said the latest charges stemmed from Fitzpatrick's attempts to discipline his son.


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