Pair charged with kidnapping, abandoning child at Goodwill, DOJ says

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — Two people have been federally charged in connection with the child abandoned at a Goodwill in Southaven, Miss. earlier this week.

Jeremy Fitzgerland, 34, and Turliscea Turner, 29, both of Memphis, have been charged with the kidnapping of the two-year-old boy they later abandoned at the Goodwill, according to D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney.

According to a complaint, Fitzgerald offered to have Turner pose as his sister and babysit the child while the child’s mother went to Nashville, Tenn. overnight on Dec. 13.

PHOTOS: Police release more photos after toddler abandoned at Goodwill store

The DOJ said Turner agreed to watch and keep the boy overnight. While Fitzgerald and the child’s mother were in Nashville, Fitzgerald demanded the mother work for him as a prostitute, the news release said.

When she refused, Fitzgerald left her in Nashville and did not answer her repeated telephone calls, according to the complaint. Fitzgerald did speak to the child’s aunt. He demanded money for the return of the child, the DOJ said.

PHOTOS: New pictures show police caring for abandoned child

Turner was aware Fitzgerald had demanded money in exchange for the child’s return, the news release said. The next morning, Fitzgerald, Turner, and an unknown person drove the boy from Memphis to Southaven. When they stopped at a gas station, Fitzgerald took the child out of the car and abandoned him at the Goodwill, the news release said. Turner went into the gas station, knowing the child had been abandoned, according to the complaint.

RELATED: Photos show police caring for child abandoned at local Goodwill

Southaven Task Force officers recovered surveillance video showing the maroon vehicle Fitzgerald and Turner had driven to Southaven in. The vehicle was seen on Germantown Parkway on Dec. 14.

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When law enforcement responded, Fitzgerald crashed the vehicle and was taken to a local hospital, according to a release from D. Michael Dunavant. Deputies found Turner inside a nearby Kroger wearing the same clothing as in the surveillance footage.

Both were taken into custody. If convicted, the defendants each face a possible sentence of 20 years and up to life in federal prison.

When news broke of the child being left at the Goodwill, thousands of people from all over the world shared his photo to help police learn more about the toddler. According to the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services, people from as far as Australia and Ireland reached out about the possibility of adopting the child.

RELATED: Families from across the world looking to help the child abandoned at Goodwill, MDCPS says