Sunday, September 02, 2001

Missing Florence kids found in Over-the-Rhine

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two children missing since Thursday morning are safe, and the man accused of kidnapping them is in jail.

        The children's mother, Kenya Gay, had told police that her boyfriend, Jeffrey Lyles, had taken the children in her car and never returned.

        Police say Jala Nicole Gay-Shabazz, 4, and her brother, Jamari Ali, 1, spent 36 hours with Mr. Lyles, 31, of Florence.

        Ms. Gay said she learned Mr. Lyles was in an Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and immediately went there with a friend. She spotted her car early Saturday morning at Elm and Green streets and called 911.

        “It was like a blessing. There was my car and I saw my kids. I jumped out and grabbed them,” she said.

        “They were tired. They were dirty. They had on the same clothes. I'm just thanking God (and) I'm thankful that they're alive and safe,” Ms. Gay said.

        Cincinnati police arrested Mr. Lyles, who was in possession of marijuana and cocaine, according to an arrest report.

        Now confined in the Hamilton County Justice Center, he will be arraigned Monday on charges of drug possession, obstructing official business, counterfeit controlled substance, theft by unlawful taking and two counts of kidnapping. He will be extradited to Boone County.


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