Missing toddler found, parents arrested - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Missing toddler found, parents arrested

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Two parents from South Carolina are arrested in eastern Iowa this week.

According to authorities, William and Jessica Ray are heavy meth users.

They were accused of stealing a vehicle in South Carolina and trying to travel to Minnesota with their two-year-old daughter, Dakota.

Authorities say they were concerned about young Dakota's safety.

Right now, the Iowa Department of Human Services is caring for two-year-old Dakota after her parents were taken into custody just outside Decorah on Thursday.

William and Jessica Ray were captured on surveillance video in a Le Mars hospital earlier in the week.

Winneshiek County Sheriff Dan Marx said they were with their daughter too.

"We had some information they were possibly on their way to Minnesota, but all that is still being investigated at this time," Sheriff Marx said.

After the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and authorities notified the public about their concern for young Dakota, the family was spotted leaving the Decorah Walmart.

"I just think this is a classic example of how good things happen when the public works together with law enforcement and sharing information, and also a great job to social media, and traditional media for getting the word out on this," Sheriff Marx said.

Shortly after responding to Walmart, dispatchers got a call the family was spotted driving along Quarry Hill Road just north of Decorah.

That's when sheriff's deputies were able to find the family, arrest them, and the sheriff says he's just relieved nobody was hurt.

"It was a relief. Whenever there's a child involved, especially a two-year-old child who is completely helpless and defenseless, obviously we drop what we're doing, and that becomes priority number one," Sheriff Marx said.

Right now, William and Jessica are being held in the Winneshiek County Jail on bond. 

They're facing a number of charges including felony theft.

William is awaiting extradition back to South Carolina.

Authorities say the Iowa Department of Human Services will likely work with South Carolina's DHS to send Dakota back home to live with other stable family members.

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