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Police: Kidnapped Virginia baby found safe; father arrested

NORFOLK, Va. — A kidnapped infant was found safe Tuesday and her sex offender father was arrested after a two-day manhunt that began when he assaulted the baby’s mother with a knife, authorities said.

Emma Grace Kennedy, who is seven months old, appeared to be in good health and was being evaluated at a hospital, the Danville Police Department in Virginia said in a news release.

Carl Ray Kennedy, the girl’s father, was arrested with the baby in Randleman, North Carolina, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of where the abduction took place Sunday evening at a gas station in Danville, police said.

Virginia State Police had issued an Amber Alert early Monday stating that the infant was in “extreme danger.”

Kennedy, 51, is a registered sex offender with a long criminal history, police said. Before the alleged abduction, he was out of jail on a $250,000 bond on a drug distribution charge.

An aunt of the girl said she believed that Kennedy was capable of harming his daughter.

“At his age and his health, I wouldn’t put anything past him,” Amy Wyatt Metzger, a sister of Krysten Murphy, the baby’s mother, said Tuesday before Kennedy’s capture.

“He’s said things alluding to harming her or the family or the baby,” said Metzger, who lives in Virginia Beach. “Things like, ‘I’m going to blow up your family’s house. If I can’t be with the baby, you can’t either.'”

Metzger said Kennedy had been harassing Murphy and her family in person, by phone and on social media since losing custody of the girl a couple months ago.

Murphy and Kennedy had lived together for about a year and a half in Randleman, North Carolina, which is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Raleigh, Metzger said.

After they split up, Murphy moved in with her mother in Danville, Virginia, which is where police say the abduction occurred.

Before Kenney’s capture, Metzger said her sister was “totally just freaking out and beside herself” and felt that she was to blame.

“It’s just gut-wrenching,” Metzger said.

Kennedy is registered as a sex offender in Asheboro, North Carolina, which about 70 miles (115 kilometers) south of Danville.

North Carolina incarceration records show Kennedy was convicted in 2014 on a felony charge of strangulation and a charge of misdemeanor sexual battery. Sexual battery means he engaged in sexual contact with someone against his or her will or with someone who was mentally disabled or physically incapacitated, according to the state’s criminal code.

Kennedy was required to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Assistant Chief Mark Lineberry of the Asheboro Police Department told the Courier-Tribune of Asheboro that the charges stemmed from a report by a woman that Kennedy assaulted her at a home.

Kennedy has an active warrant for failure to register as a sex offender, said sheriff’s Capt. Jason Chabot in Randolph County, where Asheboro is located.

In March, Kennedy was arrested on drug charges, including felony possession of cocaine. The Courier-Tribune reports he was living in nearby Randleman when he was arrested.

Kennedy had met Murphy, the mother of his daughter, a couple of years ago at a nursing home, her sister said. She was a certified nursing assistant and he was a patient in poor health, reportedly from a boating accident, Metzger said.

“Carl does not have anywhere to live,” Metzger said of Kennedy’s most recent living situation. “To the best of our knowledge, he has been floating around at friends’ houses, wherever he can stay. He was evicted in March because he incarcerated at that time.”