Woman spends two hours 'terrified' before Amber Alert brings baby home

Sunday, August 29th 2004, 9:54 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Janet O'Conner wishes she hadn't learned the hard way, but it could have been much worse.

O'Conner's brief nightmare began Friday night when she went to pick up her 7-year-old son, Zachary, from day care at Southern Hills Elementary School O'Conner says she left her 4-month-old son, Patrick, sleeping in his car seat in her mother-in-law's 1999 red Pontiac Grand Prix for only a moment while she went to get Patrick.

``I didn't go into the building,'' O'Conner said. ``I went 20 feet over to the school to knock on the door to get my son.''

O'Conner turned her back to the running car as she greeted Zachary, and when she turned around, the car wasn't there, she said.

``I was just terrified,'' O'Conner said.

She called 911 from the school and law enforcement officials issued an Amber Alert about 7 p.m. The alert system is an emergency procedure that alerts the public via the media to help authorities find abducted children. The system gained its name from Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old Arlington, Texas, girl who was kidnapped and killed in 1996.

Around 7:40 p.m., Oklahoma City police tried to stop the stolen car in Del City and the driver ran from police, Sgt. Kevin Barnes said.

When police inspected the car, the baby wasn't inside.

Less than two hours after the alert was issued, police arrested 18-year-old Kelly Klesath on kidnapping and auto theft complaints. He was held without bond in the Oklahoma County Jail.

The driver reportedly told police he didn't know the baby was in the back seat when he drove off, Barnes said.

The driver led police to the yard of a vacant house, where the baby was found still buckled into his car seat.

O'Conner was reunited with her son after 8 p.m.

``It was the longest two hours of my life,'' she said.