Good evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After a kidnapped 2-year-old girl was found safe in a dumpster Thursday evening less than an hour after she was taken in Northwest Jacksonville, the girl’s grandmother commended the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for its quick response in saving the toddler.
Laquanna Anquanette Thomas, 24, was caught shortly after the child was found and was charged with child neglect, interference with custody and false imprisonment of a child under the age of 13.
Police said Thomas entered a home on Cartier Circle without permission about 9 p.m. and took the toddler. The child’s family told officers to begin their search in the area of Golfbrook Drive, just a few miles from their home.
The child’s grandmother, Sierra Cue said she was in the home when Thomas, one of her daughter’s friends, took the toddler. In the arrest report, Thomas was identified as the ex-girlfriend of the child’s mother.
Cue said there was nothing she could do when Thomas grabbed the child.
“I’m too weak because I am a dialysis patient,” she said. “I’m too weak. I cannot fight her.”
Cue said officers in a helicopter spotted Thomas and saw her toss the toddler into a dumpster.
“They found her in record time,” Cue said. “I’m thankful and grateful that she’s alive, and no scars, because she picked up and threw my grandchild in a dumpster. And if they wasn’t watching, the police, and if the helicopter didn’t come and fly over the area where we told them that they was at, they wouldn’t have heard her crying.”
According to the police report, former Jacksonville Jaguar Ernest Wilford, who is now an officer with JSO, was the one who heard the child crying and found her in the dumpster.
The child was unharmed and was returned to her family.
Ernest Wilford played wide receiver at Virginia Tech from 2000 to 2003 and played seven seasons in the NFL mostly with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It looks like Wilford as found his calling as a police officer – he just received a meritorious award from his peers for community service. A nice quote below:
The Sheriff’s Office said in one situation last fall Wilford responded to a home after a woman called to complain about her unruly son. Wilford spoke to the family to learn about the trouble and found out the son was acting out because he didn’t have any money and needed a job.
Wilford said Thursday that he asked the teen if a job was really something he wanted and if his behavior would improve if he helped him get one.
“Long story short, I was able to talk to one of the employees at a nearby local restaurant,” Wilford said. “They interviewed the young man and were able to assist him in finding employment.”
He said he still remembers the teen’s name and at last check he was happily working at the restaurant.
Later the family contacted Wilford’s supervisor to express gratitude for what he did after the son was hired for the job.
He first caught the bug for police work when he got the opportunity to participate in the ride-along program during his playing days. After his football career, he tested the waters as a mortgage company processor and then as a sales specialist at a car dealership before he was hired by the Sheriff’s Office in March 2015.
After attending the training academy, he completed the training process and hit the streets as an officer early last spring. The Times-Union was the first to write about his new career. For the story go to http://bit.ly/2nBx9VQ.
Wilford said the applause he received from the packed room Thursday when he accepted the award helped validate that he’s now a member of the law enforcement community he’s been longing to join for years.
Now that he knows he belongs, he said he can’t wait to figure out his niche within the Sheriff’s Office.
“This agency is so large that I’m able to experience different things,” Wilford said. “What kind of experiences do I want in the future? I don’t know at the moment.”
He said he hopes to one day try out for the SWAT or K-9 units, but until then he plans to keep learning new things every time he puts on the uniform.
And that’s a nice story about a former college athlete to close the Sunday. Go Hokies!