PALATKA, Fla. — A 3-year-old girl reportedly kidnapped by her mother last May was found safe on Monday after police received a tip following the airing of CNN’s “The Hunt” on Sunday night.
Lilly Abigail Baumann was found safe at a home in the Palatka area, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
The girl’s mother, Megan Everett, is charged with kidnapping and interference with custody.
The girl, who was reported kidnapped in May 2014, was featured on John Walsh’s show “The Hunt” on Sunday. A landlady who lives in Putnam County recognized the woman as a tenant of her rental property on Motes Lane. The woman contacted CNN who immediately alerted local authorities.
The girl will be placed with her father on Monday afternoon.
On May 13, 2014, South Florida resident Robert Baumann went to pick up his daughter, Lilly, from the home of her mother, Megan Everett. When he got there, Everett and Lilly were nowhere to be found.
Everett’s boyfriend, Carlos Lesters, answered the door. “He said ‘Megan doesn’t live here. She moved,’ and he slammed the door in my face,” Baumann recalled to CNN’s “The Hunt With John Walsh.”
Mother and child were gone, but Everett left behind a note for Lesters, which read:
“Dear C, If I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn’t be doing what’s right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you, but I had to leave. I know she will be safer and happier with my family and I. Love, Meg and Lilly.”
Baumann was stunned. “Then reality kind of hit me, and then the panic hit me,” he recalled. “What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to find her? Where do I go from here?”
Confederate flags and live ammunition
Everett and Baumann had been together only a few months when their daughter, Lilly, was conceived. Everett ended the relationship before Lilly was born and reportedly wanted to cut Baumann out of her and her daughter’s lives.
Through the intervention of Everett’s mother, Pam, Baumann was able to be present for Lilly’s birth and to spend time with his daughter, once or twice a week, for the first couple of years of her life.
When Everett moved in with Lesters, her new boyfriend, Baumann grew concerned about losing access to Lilly for good. He was also troubled by photos showing Lilly playing near live ammunition and surrounded with Confederate flags.
“I don’t see her playing with toys in any picture. I see ammunition,” Baumann said. “I spoke to Megan about it, and it was, ‘Oh well,’ you know, ‘Take me to court’.” So he did.
An unusual alliance
Baumann petitioned the court for full custody, with two surprising allies in the fight: Everett’s mother, Pam, and her older sister, Stephanie.
As Pam told “The Hunt,” “It was going to be her way or no way. The baby was going to go to no school. It was not going to socialize. It was not going get its vaccinations and it was not going learn about anything but the Confederacy … something had to be done about that.”
Even with Everett’s family on his side, the court did not grant Baumann full custody. Instead, he and Everett were granted joint 50/50 custody, alternating weeks.
But only six weeks into this new arrangement, Everett and Lilly were gone.