Local News

Sanford teen escaped as stepfather slept

Posted July 17, 2015 8:54 a.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2015 6:03 p.m. EDT

— A Sanford teenager, kidnapped by the man accused of killing his mother and sister, sought a snack at Texas diner Thursday and found out he was the subject of a nationwide search.

Billy Jo McLean, 54, and his stepson Tobias McLean had been on the run since Monday, after police found
Calandra McLean and her 13-year-old daughter, Tashonna Cameron, dead in a fire at the family's 916 Clark Circle home.

The elder McLean told his stepson they were taking a road trip and forbade use of Facebook as they made their way across the country, Tobias told employees at the Windy Cow Cafe in Windorado, Texas. It was only after Tobias got out his phone to access the cafe's offer of a free dessert that he learned of the chaos happening at home.

"He got very emotional. He started shaking," said Dianna Donathan, owner of the Windy Cow. "Tears were coming down his cheeks, and he immediately said, 'Call 911.'"

Donathan said Tobias shared the story of a hasty departure from Sanford, sleeping in the van and his suspicions with sheriff's deputies, who crossed the highway and arrested Billy Jo McLean without incident at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

Tobias "just talked and talked and talked about his mother and sister," Donathan said.

"He did tell me he felt something was not right, and he did hear his sister scream but he thought it was a dream," she said.

The teen told her that at several points along the way he wanted to connect with friends on Facebook, but his stepfather would not allow it.

Sirander Allen, a cousin of Calandra McLean, said family members reacted with tears of joy at the news that Tobias was safe.

"We just thank the Lord that he wasn’t harmed, that he did get away and was able to contact the family and get the help he needed," she said.

"We didn’t need another funeral," Allen said. "We didn’t need another family member gone. I believe right now Calandra and Tashonna are dancing because he made it."

Sanford police said Friday that detectives are traveling to Texas to bring Billy Jo McLean back to North Carolina.

Tobias McLean was being looked after by Oldham sheriff's deputies until the family could make arrangements for him.