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Complaint Details Backstory of Case of Boy Left at Goodwill

Jeremy Fitzgerald allegedly made ransom demand before taking boy across state lines
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2020 9:14 AM CST

(Newser) – Two people in Tennessee are facing federal charges of kidnapping a 2-year-old boy later found abandoned at a Goodwill store in Mississippi. Authorities say 34-year-old Jeremy Fitzgerald of Memphis told the boy's mother that his sister would watch the toddler while he took her to Nashville on Sunday. But the babysitter, 29-year-old Turliscea Turner, was not Fitzgerald's sister, and once the mom got to Nashville, Fitzgerald demanded she work for him as a prostitute, per the criminal complaint. When she wouldn't comply, Fitzgerald allegedly left her there, called the boy's aunt with a ransom demand, and drove to Mississippi with the boy, Turner, and another person on Monday. When the group stopped at a gas station in Southaven, authorities say Fitzgerald took the boy to the Goodwill store and left him there with only a change of clothes and a note.

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An employee said the man claimed the boy had been abandoned by his mother. But Antoinette Smith tells WREG that there's "no way I would have left my baby." The boy, named Sergio, was turned over to Mississippi Child Protective Services before police located Fitzgerald in Memphis later Monday. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries after crashing his vehicle into another car while trying to flee, authorities say. Turner, who was allegedly aware the boy had been abandoned after a ransom demand, was arrested at a nearby grocery store. Both face 20 years to life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. The case will be presented to a grand jury, meaning more charges could follow. The boy will be returned to his mother when CPS "determines it proper." (Read more kidnapping stories.)

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