A mother and her four children were found safe Tuesday night at a motel just miles from where police said the father shot a man and abducted them three days earlier, authorities said. He was arrested as he tried to escape through an air duct.
Jerry D. White, 30, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and several counts of confinement, police said.
Authorities had issued an Amber Alert for the four children, ages 16 months to 9 years, and their mother, 31-year-old Kimberly N. Walker, on Saturday.
Police said White broke into the Elkhart house of Walker, his ex-girlfriend, about 2 a.m. Saturday and shot her sister's boyfriend, who was still in the hospital Tuesday. White then held everyone captive until leaving with Walker and the children nearly 10 hours later, police said.
Investigators were able to trace the family to the Sleepy Hollow motel, about 6 miles from Walker's home, in part because Walker had made three calls to relatives from a nearby pay phone saying they were safe, said Detective Sgt. Bill Wargo.
Officers knocked on the door of the motel room about 8 p.m. Tuesday and heard rumbling inside, after which Walker opened the door.
"She was sobbing hysterically and physically shaking like I've never seen anybody shake," Wargo said. "I asked her if she was Kim. She very hesitantly shook her head yes."
Officers pulled her out of the room and rushed her behind a building, he said.
"She was yelling, 'My children. My children,' " Wargo said.
Wargo said he then began yelling for the children but got no response at first.
"I continued to yell for the kids, and the oldest boy Jaylan, I saw him poke his head out kind of as the big brother," he said. "I asked him to come out to me, and as he came running out they all came out in order like a row of ducks."
Officers caught White as he tried to escape through an air duct, Wargo said. He did not have a weapon, but investigators — awaiting a search warrant — did not immediately know whether there was one in the motel room.
The shooting victim, Lathie Turnage, 30, was still in Elkhart General Hospital. His girlfriend, Pamela Walker, said that he was in critical condition Tuesday and that doctors were optimistic.
Police said White had been harassing Walker for several days before the abduction and that her sister and Turnage had been staying with the family. Walker reported to police Friday that White had confined her in her car before stealing it, authorities said.
Police had searched as far as Chicago for the woman and her children before finding them in their hometown of Elkhart, in northern Indiana.
Police had been especially concerned about the oldest child, 9-year-old Jaylan, because he has severe asthma and requires a ventilator every few hours. Wargo said the boy had an inhaler.
He and his siblings Justin, 8; Kyara, 6; and 16-month-old Kayla were at the police station watching cartoons, Wargo said.
"Everybody's perfectly fine," he said. "Everybody's doing great."