CONCORD, N.H. – An 8-year-old boy who disappeared more than a week ago with his mother and a teenager she's believed to be involved with were found safe in Florida on Monday morning, police said.
"It's a good day," said Canterbury police Chief Gwen Deurell.
Deurell told The Associated Press that a worker at a St. Petersburg bus station recognized Jennifer Malone; her son, Brennan; and 16-year-old Christopher Cole of Nashua.
The worker saw the three hanging around the station Monday and thought it was odd, Deurell said. The worker called police around 7:30 a.m. after recognizing them from photos on television.
Deurell said officers stopped a bus headed to a beach about 40 minutes later, identified the three and took them into custody.
She said they were safe and being questioned.
"They all are in custody right now and they're all being interviewed by St. Petersburg Police Department for crimes they may have committed down there also," Deurell said.
An elated Rodney Malone, Brennan's father, talked to his son by telephone Monday morning. He planned to travel to Florida as soon as possible to ask a judge for a custody order so he can bring his son home.
"He sounded a little sad, a little tired," Malone said minutes after speaking to the boy. "I'm sure it's been a wild adventure for an 8-year-old."
But Malone said he did not ask about the 10-day trip.
"I kept it real light with him: how he's feeling, told him I want him to come home, let him talk to Logan (his older brother) a little bit, told him we missed him and wanted to get him home so he could sleep in his own bed," Malone said.
Deurell said police were looking at the relationship between Jennifer Malone, 32, and Cole and into potential crimes such as car thefts in Florida.
The discovery came three days after at least two witnesses reported seeing the three in nearby Tampa.
The Malones' minivan was discovered early Friday in Clearwater, Fla. without its license plates. Police said it appeared they were using the New Hampshire plates and had been spotted in two other cars with the same plates.
Jennifer Malone has not been charged with any crime, but she is being investigated by the state Division for Children, Youth and Families over allegations that she was having a relationship with a teen she met at Mount Prospect Academy in Plymouth, where she worked as a youth counselor.
Cole was a student there. The teen had not been seen in Nashua since June 16, according to his mother Jennifer Reyes.
Malone was fired from her job at the school in mid-May after Reyes found them together at her home and called police, Rodney Malone said.
Nashua police did not file charges at that time because Cole was at the age of consent, but the incident triggered a state investigation to examine her relationship with Cole at the school, he said.
The three apparently took off just after investigators called and requested Jennifer Malone show up for an interview Monday. Police say the mother picked up Brennan from Canterbury Elementary School on June 16, saying he had a dental appointment.
Rodney Malone discovered his wife and son were missing when she didn't show up for work that day; he also noticed their bank account was drained.