The search continued Wednesday for Kason Thomas, who remains unaccounted for after he and his twin brother were left in a running car while their mother picked up a Door Dash food order from a Donatos restaurant in Columbus’ Short North neighborhood around 9:45 p.m. Monday.
When mother Wilhelmina Barnett turned around, police said, the car was gone.
Columbus police have identified Nalah T. Jackson, 24, as their prime suspect in the abduction and on Tuesday afternoon urged her to return Kason safely. The five-month-old baby’s twin brother, Kyair, was found by a passerby sitting in a car seat in the bitter cold early Tuesday in the economy parking lot of Dayton International Airport.
“You can return him to any safe location,” Columbus police Chief Elaine Bryant said at a news conference. “Fire department, hospital, shopping center, any public place where someone will find the baby. We are begging you. Please return Kason.”
The twin boys’ father, Lachez Thomas, on Tuesday evening described how he and other family members spent the day searching shopping centers and neighborhoods in the Dayton area for signs of Kason.
“It’s indescribable — there’s no words for this,” Thomas said of the anguishing search for his missing son.
Columbus police said on Wednesday night the tips they received so far suggested Nalah T. Jackson, the suspect accused of abducting infant twins Kason and Kyair, may still be in Montgomery County.
Kyair was found in the parking lot of the Dayton airport early Tuesday morning. His twin brother Kason remains missing.
During a joint press conference with the FBI and Ohio State Highway Patrol, Columbus police Chief Elaine Bryant said that the department was working around the clock with over a dozen agencies, including many in the Dayton area, to locate the missing twin and his alleged abductor. Jackson was charged with two counts of kidnapping on Tuesday.
“Based on the events over the past hours, several hours in the past couple of days, (Montgomery County) is our focus because that is what were our tips and our information lead,” Bryant said.
The FBI is now involved in order to provide personnel and technology resources to the investigation, Bryant said.
— Cole Behrens
Columbus police tweeted out new photos showing the damage on the Wilhelmina Barnett’s 2010 Honda Accord, which police suspect was stolen by suspected abductor Nalah T. Jackson.
Barnett, the twins’ mother, has publicly pleaded with Jackson to return her still-missing son, Kason.
The stolen black, four-door sedan is slightly damaged. The photos in the tweet below show the car’s ripped temporary Ohio registration tags and a bumper sticker that says “Westside Toys.”
— Céilí Doyle
In a Walmart parking lot in Dayton, volunteers like Ashley Cahill, of Troy, Ohio, showed up to assist the Thomas family in searching for Kason with water bottles and a passionate desire to help.
“I work at Dayton Children’s and I’m passionate about kids and this just hurts my heart,” she said. “I know If I did have kids I would want the whole community and their cousins to come out.”
The twins’ mother, Wilhelmina Barnett begged the alleged suspect, Jackson, to return Kason.
“I’m not mad at you, I know you got problems and are mentally ill,” Barnett said. “Bring him home. I just want my baby.”
The twins’ grandmother, Fonda Thomas, asked for more volunteers.
“If anybody can come out please come. The more people we have, the better chance we have of finding Kason,” she said.
Later this evening, Columbus police will hold a joint press conference with the FBI and the Ohio State Highway Patrol on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Columbus police headquarters Downtown.
The Dispatch will be in attendance and provide updates on Kason Thomas’ missing persons case.
— Cole Behrens and Jordan Laird
Dion Green, a Dayton advocate mostly focused on gun violence, is offering a $10,000 reward through his Fudge Foundation for anybody who returns five-month-old Kason Thomas, no questions asked.
“I’m hoping that reward can make something happen,” he said. “Any lead that helps me find the child, I will give them their $10,000.”
Green was part of a group of volunteers searching the Huber Heights area and other places around Dayton Wednesday afternoon.
“Im just trying to play a small part,” he said.
— Jordan Laird
Columbus Division of Police Sgt. Jeff Mooney told The Dispatch a scammer contacted Kason’s mother via text asking for a $650 ransom for Kason’s safe return, but law enforcement has confirmed that phone number is not connected to Jackson.
“The number was vetted by our federal partners and verified to not be associated with the suspect,” Mooney said. “We believe it to be a scammer attempting to get money from mom and dad.”
Mooney said he has never seen a suspect like this ask for a dollar amount.
Barnett created a GoFundMe Wednesday to raise money for the ransom, saying in the online fundraiser description she would offer Jackson $1,000.
GoFundMe has since taken the fundraiser down because raising money for a ransom violates their terms and conditions, a GoFundMe employee told The Dispatch.
The page raised more than $1,100 before it was taken down. The GoFundMe employee said they are reaching out to Barnett to work with her and see if she would like to raise funds for the search instead.
— Jordan Laird
On Wednesday morning, members of the twins’ family held a conference call among themselves to determine next steps, explained Megan Bocook.
Bocook, a victim’s advocate with the Dock Ellis Foundation — a national organization created by the late Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to assist minority families with missing people — is helping the family with a tip line, printing of fliers, organization and advocacy efforts.
“We’ve got quite a few family members in the mix today so, we’re just trying to figure out what the best plan of action is,” she said.
Those involved in the search for Kayson, including the twins’ father and paternal grandmother, Lanchez and Fonda Thomas, are searching for the five-month-old in Dayton.
Malissa Thomas-St. Clair, the founder of the non-profit Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children, posted in a Facebook video that she and others from the Columbus activist community are headed to Dayton to assist in the search for baby Kason.
Thomas-St. Clair urged the public to call homeless shelters across the tri-state area to spread the word and to get in touch with local law enforcement if they see anything suspicious.
— Monroe Trombly and Céilí Doyle
Columbus police issued a BOLO (all-points bulletin) to five neighboring states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, for those law enforcement agencies to immediately alert Columbus if anyone calls 911 and reports seeing Jackson, Kason or the stolen 2010 Honda Accord.
Related Columbus twin abduction news:Columbus police urge woman suspect to return second 5-month-old twin unharmed
Timeline: Thomas twins abductionTimeline: The search for missing Columbus baby Kason Thomas
The division sent out the bulletin on Tuesday, but tweeted out an update late Wednesday morning.
The stolen car, a four-door black sedan, has a ripped temporary Ohio registration tag, a missing front bumper, tinted windows and a white bumper sticker with the phrase “Westside Toys” emblazoned on the back.
Columbus Division of Police Sgt. Jeff Mooney said law enforcement is following up on every tip and lead they get — and fortunately or unfortunately they’ve gotten lots of them from people eager to help — but they don’t know even the general area where the suspect is at this point. The description of the car is so general and police have gotten tips about sightings of the woman from all over the state.
Amber Alerts, which unlike BOLO alerts include sending messages to cell phones directly, have not been sent out in those neighboring states. Until there is information indicating Jackson went is in a state, an Amber Alert cannot be sent out there.
“It is something we’re working tirelessly on and allocating a lot of manpower and every resource we can even think of,” Mooney said.
— Céilí Doyle and Jordan Laird
A dozen or so people gathered outside Donatos Pizza in the Short North Wednesday morning at a vigil urging for the safe return of Kason Thomas.
Following prayers and words of encouragement, the twins’ paternal grandmother Fonda Thomas choked back tears as she spoke about her grandson who is still missing.
“He is just the most adorable baby … he has the best smile,” she said. “We don’t even know what else he has to show us but what we’ve seen in these last five months we want to continue to see every day and continue to have him with us to grow.”
Thomas said the goal was to bring Kason home by the end of the day. She added that she had only just heard Kason laugh for the first time last weekend and desperately looks forward to seeing him grow up once he’s returned home.
Assistant Columbus Police Chief LaShanna Potts also attended the vigil and said there have been no sightings so far of Kason or suspect Nalah T. Jackson, 24.
“We’re checking every lead that we can … Our officers and detectives have been working around the clock… we will not sleep until this baby is brought home,” Potts said.
— Max Filby
During a press conference on Tuesday, Columbus police Chief Elaine Bryant urged anyone in the public with additional information on the potential whereabouts of suspect Nalah T. Jackson to call a Columbus police tip line at 614-645-4266.
Those who want to join the search for the still-missing twin Kason Thomas can email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer, provide resources or donate items to assist, according to a Facebook post from Dock Ellis Foundation.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have joined in the search for the missing child. Officers from the Ohio Highway Patrol, Ohio State University, Grandview and Upper Arlington police department have visited more than a dozen addresses formerly associated with Jackson, Bryant said. Three homeless camps were also checked.
— Céilí Doyle
Thomas twins’ suspected abductor has criminal history, including child endangerment
Nalah T. Jackson, 24, identified by police Tuesday as their prime suspect in the abduction, had previous run-ins with law enforcement on child endangerment charges and allegations, court records show.
Most recently, in September 2021, Jackson allegedly fled on foot with her children during a supervised visit at the National Youth Advocacy Center, which held emergency custody over her children, police reported.
Police allege that two NYAC employees followed her on foot for several blocks and tried to regain control of the children, when Jackson flagged down a stranger’s vehicle and got in the car.
The driver ordered Jackson to leave the car, police alleged, after NYAC staff informed him that driving off with Jackson would be a crime.
In June 2021, Jackson pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges after her 11-month-old daughter fell down an apartment staircase, according to court records.
Police said Jackson did not respond to EMS personnel seeking entry to the building, compelling Columbus firefighters to force entry into the residence. Jackson did not respond to police or firefighters until they contacted her in her bedroom, court records indicate.
Jackson was sentenced to serve 13 days in prison for the charge and two years of probation, which she remained on at the time of this latest incident.
— Monroe Trombly
— Cole Behrens