Boy with heart condition found in Alsip

April 25, 2012 8:57:07 PM PDT
A child with a life-threatening heart condition who was found in southwest suburban Alsip after being abducted in St. Louis was reunited with his mother Wednesday night.

Porter Stone, 5, was being treated at a children's hospital in St. Louis Tuesday when police say his father took the boy without permission from the boy's mother, who has custody.

The disappearance prompted an early-morning Amber Alert, which was canceled later Wednesday.

St. Louis police say Illinois authorities found the child with his father Jeffery Stone, 33, of Grand Prairie, Texas, his paternal grandmother Rhonda Marie Matthews, 59, of Hercules, California, and his aunt Heather Minton, 37, of Chico, California. They were taken into custody in Alsip early Wednesday after three felony warrants were issued for kidnapping, interfering with custody and endangering the welfare of a child. Another 4-year-old child with them is in protective custody.

Porter's mother arrived at O'Hare Airport Wednesday night, eager to see her sick son.

"I knew he did not have his medication, and I did not know when I would see him again," Tiffany Stone, mother, said. "I talked to him, he's good. Just playing games, hanging out."

Porter will head home with his mother to St. Joseph, Missouri, Thursday morning where he will join his little sister Piper.

Relatives say the incident stemmed from a bitter custody battle that started in Hercules, California. It spread to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a van was allegedly rented, then to St. Louis, Missouri, where the abduction allegedly occurred, and ended in Alsip, where Illinois State Police caught up with the suspects.

"In coordination with Illinois State Police, the Alsip police responded to the Baymount Motel, 12801 South Cicero, when reliable information was received that Jeffery and Porter Stone were in the area," said Lt. Scott Zablotny of the Alsip Police Department. "Officers located a vehicle in the hotel parking lot matching the description in the Amber Alert, and review of the hotel surveillance confirmed that Porter had checked into the hotel, and officers were able to determine which room Porter was located in."

The 5-year-old boy's heart condition requires life-saving medicine. Doctors say he is next in line for a heart transplant. The child had a backpack with him when he was taken with only enough medicine for about one day, putting his immediate health and safety at risk.

Relatives say Porter's parents are in the midst of a divorce and that Jeffrey Stone taunted his estranged wife after he and Porter disappeared by texting her.

"It hurt at the time, but it worked in our favor because that's how police were able to track him and were never more than 30 minutes behind him," said Jessica Chavez, family friend.

Porter Stone was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where authorities said doctors were checking on him and running tests to make sure he is alright.

"We're hearing that Porter's doing OK," said the boy's maternal grandmother said. "They're going to fly his mother out to Porter to reunite them and then take him back to the hospital."

"It was mainly just relief and thanking God that Porter was OK and that he was stable, and that Jeff, besides taking him, hadn't done anything further to harm Porter," Chavez said.

The child's grandfather, Matt Fife, spoke with ABC7 Chicago on the telephone.

"When I came home last night, my wife broke the news to me, and I literally was in shock," Fife said. "I just never dreamed that something like this would happen, and I'm just grateful that the FBI and all the law enforcement had come together to help us in this matter. We're just relieved."

It is not clear why Porter's father allegedly drove him away from the St. Louis hospital.

All three suspects are being held at the Alsip Police Department. They are scheduled to be transferred to Cook County Sheriff's Police Fugitive Warrants Division Thursday for extradition to Missouri.