RALEIGH, N.C. – Two North Carolina parents violated a court order by fleeing 2,000 miles to Montana with an infant who was supposed to be under state supervision, authorities said Monday.
The infant, John Eastlack, was found unharmed with his parents in a Montana hotel Sunday. An Amber Alert had been issued accusing Penny Dianne Worthy and Chad Douglas Eastlack of abducting the 8-month-old boy.
Randolph County, North Carolina, Sheriff Robert Graves said Monday at a news conference that the county social services department had taken custody of the boy in May, but he was later returned to Worthy's care. Last Tuesday, authorities were notified that the agency was unable to find the 20-year-old mother and child during a welfare check.
The director of the agency, Beth Duncan, said Chad Eastlack was supposed to see the child only during supervised visits. She said the parents had violated conditions set by the court when the boy was returned to Worthy's care but declined to discuss other specifics of the case.
Andy Gregson, the chief assistant district attorney for Randolph County, said that a judge could hold the couple in contempt for violating the order, which could result in jail time. He said that taking the child appeared to be a civil — and not criminal — matter but no final decisions had been made on charges.
Early Sunday in Montana, a Missoula police officer found the boy and his parents after spotting the minivan driven by the parents in the hotel parking lot, authorities said. Chad Eastlack had lived in Montana before, which helped investigators narrow their cross-country search.
Eastlack, 35, was arrested on a warrant accusing him of stealing the minivan and a firearm in North Carolina. He was being held in a Missoula jail and was scheduled for a Monday court appearance.
No phone listing could be found for an address that North Carolina authorities gave for Eastlack and Worthy.
Worthy was still in the Missoula area Monday but wasn't in custody, said Randolph County Sheriff's Capt. Derrick Hill. A Missoula social services agency has the boy, who will be returned to authorities in North Carolina.