Meigs Deputies Say Babysitter Tried To Stop Girl's Abduction

RACINE, Ohio - Meigs County, Ohio, deputies said a father reported his child's babysitter tried to stop an abduction of his 7-year-old daughter by the girl's mother and another man, but the babysitter was struck in the head with a gun as he attempted to jump on the hood of the getaway vehicle.

West Virginia State Police stopped the vehicle Tuesday morning at the Walmart in Ripley and arrested the mother and four other people. The girl then had an emotional reunion with her father in the parking lot.

The suspects, all taken into custody on charges of aggravated burglary and kidnapping, have been identified as the girl's mother, Stacey Ratcliff, 30, of Salisbury, N.C., Johnny Miller, 24, of Salisbury, N.C. , Maleah Leppanen, 30, of Salisbury, N.C., Travis Holcomb, 30, of Dallas, N.C., and Mary Livengood, 26, of Salisbury, N.C., according to a news release from the Meigs County Sheriff's Department.

Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood said the sheriff's office received a call about 8:40 a.m. from Chadd Ratcliff reporting that his 7-year-old daughter had just been abducted from his residence at 49510 Eagle Ridge Road in Racine, Ohio.

Ratcliff reported that his babysitter said that Ratcliff's estranged wife, Stacey Ratcliff, and a black male had abducted his daughter from his residence and fled in a blue Dodge Durango with North Carolina license plates. Chadd Ratcliff reported that his babysitter told him that the black male had a black pistol and when the babysitter attempted to stop the vehicle, the black male struck him in the head with the pistol while the babysitter jumped on the hood of the Durango in an attempt to stop the vehicle.

Wood said information was collected and an Amber Alert was issued as deputies and officers from the Ohio State Patrol, Pomeroy Police, Ravenswood Police, Jackson County Sheriff's Department in West Virginia and the West Virginia State Police responded toward the Ravenswood Bridge and Interstate 77 in an attempt to locate the blue Dodge Durango.

At about 9:20 a.m., the Meigs County Sheriff's Office received a call from West Virginia authorities that the suspect vehicle was located at the Walmart in Ripley. The sheriff's office was told that the girl was located and three females and two male subjects were being detained.

Meigs County deputies responded to Ripley. Meigs County deputies, West Virginia troopers and Jackson County deputies took the suspects into custody.

Chadd Ratcliff picked up his daughter in Ripley. The blue Dodge Durango was impounded and towed from the scene. All the defendants will be incarcerated in West Virginia until extradited back to Ohio to answer the criminal charges lodged against them.

RIPLEY, W.Va. -- It was an emotional reunion for a father and a little girl in Ripley after State Police arrested her mother and four others for allegedly taking the child without permission from Ohio.

The father knelt in the parking lot of the Walmart where the arrests where made Tuesday morning and the 7-year-old girl ran to her father, throwing her arms around his neck.

"My heart stopped instantly," said the girl's father, Chadd Ratcliff. "You think, 'Am I ever going to be able to see your kid again."

West Virginia State Police said the girl's mother and four others were arrested following an alert that was issued to be on the lookout for a vehicle after an apparent abduction in Meigs County, Ohio.

A trooper said he believes the mother did not have custody rights and took the child from a babysitter in Ohio. The babysitter called as soon as the child was taken.

"If it wasn't for his quick action, they could have been half way to North Carolina right now and I could have never gotten her back," Ratcliff said about the babysitter's quick action to call authorities.

RIPLEY, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Police have arrested five people in Ripley including the mother of a 7-year-old girl who authorities were seeking because the child was traveling with people who did not have custodial rights.

Troopers pulled the vehicle over in Ripley about 9:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Walmart. An alert had been issued from Meigs County to be on the lookout for the vehicle that reportedly was traveling to North Carolina.

Five people, two men and three women, were arrested by troopers. They had been traveling in a blue Durango.

A trooper said he believes the mother did not have custody rights and took the child from a babysitter in Ohio. The babysitter called as soon as the child was taken.

The Meigs County sheriff, Jackson County sheriff and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources are responding.{} {}

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --West Virginia State Police have pulled over a vehicle with several men in Ripley who authorities issued an alert for because they were believed to be traveling with a 7-year-old girl they do not have custodial rights over.

A woman who answered the phone at the State Police detachment in Ripley said troopers have stopped the men at the Walmart in Ripley.{}

Metro 911 dispatchers said an alert was issued to be on the lookout for two men who are believed to be armed and traveling through the area with the girl.

Dispatchers said the call was issued from Meigs County, Ohio, about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday to be on the lookout for a black male driver and a white passenger and possibly a third passenger driving in a green Dodge Durango with North Carolina tags. The men do not have custodial rights of the girl.

The suspects are reported to be armed and traveling to North Carolina.

** Photo Courtesy Scott Davidson CC BY 2.0 License Info