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Five-Year-Old Girl Reunited with Grandparents

Five-Year-Old Girl Reunited with Grandparents


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John Hollenhorst ReportingThere was a happy ending today for an Amber Alert kidnapping case.

A 5-year-old girl was returned safely to her grandparents, one day after she was taken away violently by her mother and the mother's boyfriend.

The young girl was found this morning after she spent a night at a private residence in Evanston.

A few hours later, the kidnapping suspects wrecked their car in a remote section of Weber County.

Five-Year-Old Girl Reunited with Grandparents

Jasmine Spens was all smiles after reuniting with her grandparents. She seemed none the worse after a day and night as a kidnap victim. When asked if she was scared, Jasmine replied "no."

Friday, Jasmine's mother, Julia Wheelwright, and boyfriend, Donald Watters, allegedly beat up the grandmother, who had legal custody.

Five-Year-Old Girl Reunited with Grandparents

They took the girl and disappeared. Deputies issued an Amber Alert fearing for Jasmine's life.

Saturday afternoon, deputies returned to the grandmother's house. This time they had good news. Sgt. Scott Peay, Morgan County Sheriff's Office, told the grandparents, "We've just received word that Jasmine's been located in Evanston, Wyoming."

Dana Spens, Jasmine's grandmother said, "I'm so grateful that we've got Jasmine back, and the suspects in custody. We're just so grateful to them for all their help."

Five-Year-Old Girl Reunited with Grandparents

The suspects were nabbed along a rural highway east of Ogden. They rolled their car long after they dropped Jasmine with acquaintances in Evanston.

The caretaker at a nearby ranch called authorities because they acted suspiciously. Randy Potokar, caretaker at Sourdough Ranch, said, "He walked around to the end of the cabin. I went around to the back of the cabin. The girl was hiding in the back of the cabin, under the deck. I kept them in the back of the cabin, gave him a cigarette and just kind of small talked him until the sheriff came."

When deputies arrived there was a brief chase on foot. "There was a little bit of a struggle with the girl. The guy pretty much gave up, but the girl didn't want to," said Potokar.

Police say the suspects' acquaintances, who kept the girl overnight in Evanston, did not know she was a kidnap victim.

Lt. Joannie Cornia, of the Evanston Police Department, said, "When the mom and boyfriend showed up at the residence, they said they had to go someplace and needed a babysitter. They thought they were just babysitting for the night."

But in the morning the babysitters got suspicious too and called police.

Five-Year-Old Girl Reunited with Grandparents

Dana said, "We're just excited to be going home and to have a happy ending to our saga."

Authorities say the Amber Alert was the key because it helped witnesses get suspicious and pick up the phone.

By coincidence, tomorrow there will be an event marking the anniversary of the kidnapping of Rachel Runyon.

Her case originally led to creation of the Rachel Alert, which was later modified to the Amber Alert.

We will have more on the anniversary tomorrow on Eyewitness News.

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