A 2-year-old boy who was initially believed to have been kidnapped during a carjacking in Fern Rock late Thursday was found safe and sound in his Mantua home, police said.
The kidnapping report, according to investigators, had been a mistake made by the child's traumatized godmother, who had apparently forgotten amid the chaos that she dropped him off at home about two-and-a-half hours before she was carjacked.
The 46-year-old victim was driving a red Chrysler minivan when a man approached her at 11th and Medary in Fern Rock around 8:30 p.m. Chief Inspector Scott Small said the woman and several witnesses said the man forcefully tore her out of the van, threw her to the street and took off in the vehicle.
The distraught woman, whom police found lying on the street where she was carjacked, became hysterical when she met officers, telling them that the little boy had been in the car at the time of the carjacking.
A citywide search ensued, and within minutes, police found the woman's van about a mile away, at 66th Avenue and Bouvier Street in West Oak Lane, Small said. The toddler, at that point, was unaccounted for, he added.
For about 30 to 45 excruciating minutes, Small said, police from numerous units and districts around the city searched for the boy. Police soon realized, however, that he was safe at home in Mantua, and that the godmother, who police said is not believed to be related by blood to the child, had forgotten she dropped him off there.
"The fact that she was assaulted and it was traumatic, she mistakenly thought the child was in the car," Small said. "We confirmed the child was not in the car."
The hysterical victim was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center and is expected to be OK, Small said. She suffered cuts and bruises.
Her red van remained on 66th Avenue after 10 p.m., awaiting a warrant to be towed to be searched and dusted for fingerprints.
Small said city cameras near where the car was abandoned by the carjacker may have captured the man, who acted alone and is described as being in his 20s and wearing all blue. Those cameras were being checked by investigators Thursday night as the carjacker remained at large.
Tipsters should contact the Northwest Detective Division at 215-686-3353.