CHICAGO | Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Friday the 21-month-old son of a Harvey woman accused of abducting him was found safe by authorities in Memphis, Tenn.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is waiting for the extradition from Tennessee of Taneil Curtis, 32, who is accused of abducting her son from state custody during a visit in South Holland.
Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the sheriff, said the boy and his mother were found by local authorities trying to hide from law enforcement in a clump of bushes.
Curtis, who has four arrest warrants pending against her in Cook County, had been sought since last month.
She had lost custody of her son but was permitted a supervised visit by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at a restaurant in South Holland.
During that visit, Curtis asked a state case aide if she could get her son some water. When she got to the drink area, Curtis ran out of the restaurant with the boy, DCFS officials said.
Curtis was seen driving away in a U-Haul rental truck with the boy.
The truck was later found abandoned, and investigators in South Holland said it was rented by Kirk Alexander, 35, who was dating Curtis. He found to have failed to register as a sex offender and is being held at Cook County Jail.
Officials said this is the second time Curtis has tried taking her son. They say she left a hospital in February 2011 when he was born without telling hospital officials.
She lost custody of three other children — ages 14, 4 and 3 — because of what sheriff’s police describe as a “substantial risk of physical harm.”
Ansari said that in the case of one child, Curtis tried to hit a DCFS caseworker with her car while she had the baby sitting in her lap.
Dart, a former state legislator, said in a prepared statement he sent letters to Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Auditor General William Holland, saying there needs to be a “comprehensive audit” of DCFS policies and procedures to reduce the likelihood that a mother could abduct her child in such a manner again.
“If the audit reveals instances of noncompliance, immediate remedial measures must be instituted,” Dart said.