A 9-month-old is back with his family after being kidnapped last night in Jeanerette. Liam Allen was sleeping in his mother’s car when it was stolen from the parking lot of the Calvary Pentecostal Church.
The abductor stole the car, which was parked and left running, from the church on Highway 90 and drove more than two hours out to New Orleans. Deputies say they were able to track him down because he used the victim’s gas cards at stations along the route. Police found both the suspect and the child near the intersection of Poydras and Camp Streets. The child was safe and reunited with his family at a nearby hospital.
Terry Doehling of Lafayette is under arrest following the incident. He was arrested in New Orleans on child endangerment and possession of stolen property charges.
Janelle Allen Charles, the endangered child’s grandmother, says she thought she misheard when her son gave her the news.
"I said they stole your car? He said no Mom, they stole my child!"
Terry Doehling allegedly kidnapped her grandson after he was left in a running car in the parking lot of Calvary Pentecostal Church.
"The cameras show the guy pulling doors to see if he could get in any of the vehicles. It just so happened her door was unlocked, that’s how he took her car without knowing the baby was in there. So when she came out she realized her car was gone and they took her baby," says Charles.
That’s when the Iberia Parish sheriff’s office stepped in, launching a statewide search.
"We immediately got on a regional broadcast channel for all the surrounding law enforcement agencies and started to put out the information for the description of the vehicle, the child that was inside, big welfare concern, and once we got the suspect information we started sending that out," says Major Wendell Raborn with the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies say Doehling also used a credit card left in the car. They tracked his spending on the card, leading them to New Orleans, where New Orleans and state police caught Doehling who led them to the car and the baby.
"We’re all standing around like a bunch of expectant fathers, wondering where’s the baby, where’s the baby, and when they came back on and said we have the baby he’s ok, there was a big collective sigh like oh thank god," says Raborn.
The baby is now in his mother’s care. Doehling is still in the New Orleans jail.