MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Two suspects accused of abandoning a 2-year-old boy at a Goodwill donation outlet in Southaven, Mississippi, are facing federal kidnapping charges, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant’s office announced Thursday.
Jeremy Fitzgerald, 34, and Turliscea Turner, 29, have been federally charged in a kidnapping complaint.
The boy, who has not been identified by authorities, was left at the Goodwill on Stateline Road in Southaven, Mississippi Monday morning. The location is less than a mile from the Tennessee state line.
Authorities said he was left with a bag and a note.
Prosecutors allege the boy was kidnapped as a part of a scheme that started with an attempt to blackmail his mother into prostitution.
It’s not clear from court documents how the two eventually decided to leave the boy at Goodwill.
Fitzgerald, Turner, and an additional unknown suspect allegedly drove the child across the Tennessee-Mississippi state line; a move that usually triggers federal kidnapping charges.
After responding to the scene at Goodwill, Southaven police then began combing through surveillance footage from the gas station next to Goodwill, identifying suspects in the process.
Smith had reported her son as kidnapped around this time.
After news outlets reported the abandonment case, Mississippi Child Protection Services officials said people across the country felt the need to help the toddler.
The department has received numerous calls and emails with offers to help, send money, foster and adopt the child.
Follow Micaela A. Watts on Twitter: @megawatts2000.