Abducted 4-year-old Wisconsin boy found safe in Michigan after 3 months; father in custody
The child, Azariah Petrick, was reported missing by his mother on July 22. Azariah was last seen in Pleasant Prairie after a custodial visit with his father, Mark Anthony Petrick, 30.
"The mother and father had some communications that the father had no intentions of returning him to the mother. He also made some comments about possibly moving out of state, possibly even moving out of the country," said David Smetana, chief of police for Pleasant Prairie Police Department.
Smetana said the family had connections in Oklahoma and the area near Traverse City, Michigan, so detectives spent some time in northern Michigan looking for leads in the case.
"(For) the detective handling this case, this was his highest priority since July," Smetana said.
This week, someone in northern Michigan called Pleasant Prairie police and said he had recognized Azariah from a photo shared from a media outlet on Facebook. Officers made contact with law enforcement in Michigan.
Around 11 p.m. Monday, troopers from the Michigan State Police Cadillac Post were dispatched in the Village of Kingsley, Michigan, according to a news release from Michigan State Police.
The caller told police he was certain the child and his father were staying in a recreational vehicle, or RV, on Pearl St. Smetana said Michigan authorities located the two of them in the parking lot of an RV repair shop.
Authorities said Petrick refused to identify himself, but Azariah told deputies his name. Azariah is now safe and with his mother.
"We're just really happy that we could play a part in getting them reunited," Smetana said.
Troopers immediately detained Petrick. Petrick was arrested on an outstanding warrant lodged at the Grand Traverse County Jail. He is now being held on a $20,000 cash bond and will be extradited to Wisconsin to face felony charges of interference with child custody.
"These are still serious charges. You have to understand that a 4-year-old was taken away from his mother since July 22nd. She had no contact with that child. She didn't know where the child was, so you can imagine the anxiety," Smetana said.
He also noted that this story shows the power in sharing photos of missing children.
"No matter where you live, when you see these types of bulletins or Facebook posts, make a note of it so you can kind of keep your eyes open. That's exactly what the person did who called in the tip," Smetana said.