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Fayetteville Police Locate Toddler, Father Charged With Filing False Report

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FAYETTEVILLE — After a seven-hour search, Fayetteville police located a toddler who was reported missing by her father earlier in the day. The little girl is safe, but her father is facing charges.

Police say they found 18-month-old Ayana Jones and her mother, Sharice Snowden, early Wednesday evening. The child's father, Larry Jones, is being charged with two counts of filing a false police report.

"In this sense where it was so on-scene, where he calls in and says my child was just abducted, you have to respond," says Capt. Brad Chandler of the Fayetteville Police Department, "and you have to pull out all stops because God forbid if it's true."

By the time investigators figured out that Larry Jones was lying, 60 to 70 city emergency workers spent seven hours searching for a little girl who had never been kidnapped in the first place.

"We utilized the fire department for a foot search," Chandler said. "We had to redirect our special units like in our district support, our traffic units, our mounted patrol ... it tied up a lot of my detectives, the cases that they could have been working today we had to set aside."

For Wednesday's search and for allegedly lying about his car being stolen Tuesday night, Larry Jones faces two counts of filing a false police report. Both charges are misdemeanors, but police say they are going to ask the judge to make Jones pay for all of the manpower used.

"And as for how much ... probably $40,000 to $50,000 was expended today," Chandler said.

Police say Ayana Jones and her mother left Wednesday morning to go out of state. They say Larry Jones knew about that all along.

During the search, investigators never let Jones out of their sight. They had talked with him all day as had many members of his family.

Police and canine crews spent most of the afternoon searching for Ayana, who was reported missing from a car Monday morning at a Servco gas station at the intersection of Roxie Avenue and Raeford Road in Fayetteville.

Larry Jones said he went inside the gas station's convenience store just before 11 a.m. He claimed that when he returned to his car, a rear door was open and his daughter was missing from her car seat.

"He was waving his arms and grabbing his head. He was in tears. He was just petrified," said store clerk Lori McCauley.

Police searched the car and car seat, looking for fingerprints and any evidence that might lead them to the child.

They also searched a wide area near the gas station on horseback, on foot and with canine units. The Fayetteville Fire Department assisted in the search.

"Naturally, right now, we're looking out for the welfare of the child," Chandler said during the search. "We haven't ruled anything out, we don't know for sure if this is an abduction. Possibly the child got out on its own. That's partly why the fire department is assisting also. We're covering all angles. Our main intent right here is to find the child."

Police stopped cars in the area near the gas station and asked passersby if they had seen anything suspicious. andJohn McDonnellandChad Flowers

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
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