A three-year-old Pennsylvania girl whose disappearance sparked an Amber Alert was found safe in Manhattan yesterday afternoon, thanks to an eagle-eyed motorist who recognized the car described in the alert. Now her father is in custody.
Robert Byrne, 24, apparently abducted his daughter Ava during a fight with the girl's mother, Morgan Barela, early Friday in Nescopeck, Pennsylvania. She told the Citizens Voice that they were arguing about whether he had cheated on her.
Barela, who is eight months pregnant, recounted, "He slapped me across the face, into the closet and tried to grab my phone. He squished my belly, and the last thing he said was he's going to shoot me, my kids and himself. Then he took off with our daughter."
Ava was only wearing a diaper at the time.
Right before 2 p.m., a driver in Manhattan noticed the car, a 2004 Hyundai Elantra, and, the Post reports, "flagged down traffic agent Md G. Ali at the intersection of 34th St and 10th Avenue." Ali asked the Hyundai driver—Byrne—to pull over, which he did. Ali said, "I looked into the car and the girl wasn’t crying, but she looked scared."
While Ali waited for police backup, Byrne suddenly got out of the car with the girl and started to walk away. Arriving cops stopped him; police officer Sean Mooney said, "We were able to remove the child very willingly." Byrne was then taken into police custody.
The Citizens Voice reports, "According to an application for a protection-from-abuse order Barela filed in court Friday, Byrne came inside around midnight claiming voices in his head were telling him Barela and the kids were in danger. She asked who was after them, and Byrne replied that he didn’t know — the voices just said they would be safer at Barela’s mother’s house."
Her application read, "I am in fear for her life. He is capable of anything because he hears voices all the time and they tell him to do bad things."
Ava was released to her mother and grandmother. Barela told reporters, "I am feeling happy and I just want to go home and spend time with my daughter."
Charges are pending against Byrne.