Crime & Courts

Missing 2-year-old girl Anyla James has been found safe, Wichita police say

Police say girl, 2, may be in danger after dad made ‘concerning statements’

Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred talks about efforts to find 2-year-old Anyla James, who is thought to be with her father. (June 17, 2019)
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Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred talks about efforts to find 2-year-old Anyla James, who is thought to be with her father. (June 17, 2019)

Update, 9:45 p.m. Monday:

Wichita police have arrested a 34-year-old woman in connection to the Anyla James case, Officer Kevin Wheeler said Monday night in a news release. Police neither identified the woman nor indicated whether she is Anyla’s mom. More information from police is expected Tuesday morning.

Capt. Brent Allred previously said that 2-year-old Anyla James might have been in danger when police issued an attempt to locate on the toddler. Her 34-year-old mother had reported to Wichita police that the child’s father, Alton James Jr., was possibly suicidal and made “concerning statements about the safety of her welfare” around 5:50 p.m. Sunday, when they were due to meet to exchange custody of the girl.

But police later said the girl had been found, that she was not in danger and that they were investigating conflicting reports about what happened. Dispatches over the police scanner Monday evening indicated that detectives with the Exploited and Missing Child Unit planned to arrest Anyla’s mother on suspicion of making a false report.

Update, 6 p.m. Monday:

Wichita police said Anyla James has been found safe.

“WPD would like to thank the media and the public for their assistance in locating Anyla,” Officer Kevin Wheeler said in a news release. “WPD continues to investigate this case and will provide updates accordingly.”

Update, 4 p.m. Monday:

Wichita police said that a 2-year-old girl is no longer believed to be in danger after previously reporting that her dad refused to return the child to her mom on Father’s Day.

Police said late Sunday night that Anyla James “is believed to be in danger and is with her biological father Alton James Jr.” But Officer Kevin Wheeler said Monday afternoon that Anyla has been with her dad for weeks.

“We have learned that Anyla is with her father, and has been in his custody for several weeks,” Wheeler said in a news release. “We do not believe Anyla is in any danger based on the new information we have received.”

Investigators on Monday “found conflicting information and new information that has surfaced about her well-being,” Wheeler said. Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to contact law enforcement “so that we may check her welfare.”

Original story:

Wichita police said Monday they still haven’t found a 2-year-old girl whose father reportedly refused to return her to her mother on Father’s Day.

Capt. Brent Allred said “it’s a possibility” that the toddler, Anyla James, may be in danger. Her 34-year-old mother reported to Wichita police that the child’s father, Alton James Jr., was possibly suicidal and made “concerning statements about the safety of her welfare” around 5:50 p.m. Sunday, when they were due to meet to exchange custody of the girl.

The 2-year-old was not abducted, Allred said Monday. Her father, 28, had her lawfully for the holiday, and there is apparently no court order that gives one parent custody preference over the other, he said.

But police are trying to find them both because of the nature of the statements Alton James Jr. reportedly made to the girl’s mother, Allred said.

Anyone who knows where she’s at or sees her is asked to call 911 immediately. Police think James is likely still in the area but they haven’t been able to reach him.

“Our main concern is her safety and well being,” Allred said of the toddler.

“We would like to check her welfare and to contact her father to see that we have a better understanding of what actually occurred yesterday.”

In a Facebook post Sunday night, Wichita police said the girl “is believed to be in danger.”

“It’s a possibility. ... We hope not,” Allred said Monday. “But we want to at least make contact with her to check her out physically, mentally to make sure everything’s OK.”

The girl, Anyla, was last seen in the 2300 block of North Woodlawn outside of an apartment complex where the custody exchange was to take place. She was wearing a pink shirt, white leggings with red hearts and pink shoes. She is black, has black hair and brown eyes, is about 3 feet tall and weighs about 40 pounds.

Police said Sunday they did not have a vehicle description to provide to the public.

Allred said Monday the case does not meet the criteria required to issue an Amber Alert because the child was not abducted.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.

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