Crime

‘Broad’ search in West Virginia for missing metro-east kids

Police start national manhunt after 13-year-old, infant son kidnapped

September 2016 file video: Kidnapping charges were filed and a national manhunt started after Katherine Derleth, 13, and her infant son, Christopher Ray Derleth, were kidnapped, Madison County Sheriff's investigators and prosecutors said.
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September 2016 file video: Kidnapping charges were filed and a national manhunt started after Katherine Derleth, 13, and her infant son, Christopher Ray Derleth, were kidnapped, Madison County Sheriff's investigators and prosecutors said.

Authorities in West Virginia continued searching Tuesday for a 13-year-old girl and her infant son who were reported missing Sunday morning from Madison County.

Katherine E. Derleth and her baby son, Christopher R. Derleth, who was born Sept. 1, were taken sometime between 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday from a foster home in rural Madison County. Police believe Christopher M. Derleth, Katherine’s stepfather, took the children.

Police in West Virginia were notified by Madison County deputies when they developed information that Christopher M. Derleth may have been headed to West Virginia.

On Sunday, the minivan police believe the group is traveling in was sighted, according to Madison County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Mike Dixon.

“We have credible information that the van was near Charleston, West Virginia, on Sunday,” Dixon said. He would not discuss the circumstances surrounding that sighting any further. He also said police have no credible evidence suggesting the group could be headed anywhere else.

Lt. Michael Baylous of the West Virginia State Police said Tuesday morning that authorities searching for the missing children have not zeroed in on a particular region within in the state.

“(The search) is broad, there’s no specific information we have that would lead us to think they’re in a particular area,” Baylous said. “It’s a rural state. They could be anywhere. They could be out of the state.”

Derleth was charged in Madison County Tuesday with aggravated kidnapping, a Class X felony, and child abduction, a Class 4 felony. Those charges triggered a nationwide warrant for Derleth’s arrest.

An Amber Alert was issued Monday in West Virginia.

Police are searching for a green 1997 Mercury Villager minivan with Illinois license plates E833210.

“The focus from the public should be on watching for them at interstate rest stops throughout the country, rural camp grounds and/or low end hotel/motels,” Dixon said.

Katherine is described as 4-foot-8 and 95 pounds, brown hair and eyes and has three birthmarks on her right knee. Christopher Ray Derleth has dark hair and eyes, is 21 inches long and weighs 9 pounds, 3 ounces. Christopher Derleth is described as 6-foot-1, 160 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Madison County Sheriff’s Office at 618-692-4433 or call 911.

Return to BND.com for updates to this story.

Tobias Wall: 618-239-2501, @Wall_BND

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