The mother and baby that were separated Friday morning when a thief stole their car have been reunited. The 4-month-old boy was checked out and released from Children's Hospital Friday afternoon.
While KPD credited the media and the community for helping track down the stolen car, officers still need the public's help in identifying the driver and the suspect.
Investigators said they are continuing to search for the white 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier that they believe the suspect may have gotten away in. Detectives have gathered evidence from the 29-year-old woman's Dodge Neon that was abandoned at the McDonald's on Hardin Valley Road with the baby still inside.
Around 8 a.m., this went over police scanners: The county does have a call from the citizen that the vehicle is inside the parking lot at McDonald's on Hardin Valley. The baby is inside asleep. The baby is in the vehicle at McDonald's."
KPD said this story is an example of the power of communication, and how quickly word of mouth can make a difference.
"We were able to get that out to the media, they quickly got it out on TV, radio, social media, and that led to the successful return of this child," said Darrell DeBusk, Public Information Officer with the Knoxville Police Department.
DeBusk said through the media and social media sites, drivers were alerted to look out for the stolen car.
"We started receiving calls from all over Knoxville, Knox County, even outside of Knox County reporting vehicles that were black in color, Dodge Neons," said DeBusk. "And that's a good thing and we thank them for that."
DeBusk also said this is an important reminder for parents.
"You should never leave a child in a car unattended, even if it's just for a minute," urged DeBusk.
Debusk said the mother could face charges, possibly child neglect, depending on how the DA views the case. He said the driver and suspect could both also face serious charges, pending the outcome of the investigation.
UPDATE: 9:15 am:
Knoxville police are still searching for a suspect accused of stealing a car with a baby inside in north Knoxville Friday morning.
Officials said in less than two hours after the car was stolen, the 4-month-old boy was found safe inside the abandoned, stolen vehicle parked in the McDonald's on Hardin Valley Road in west Knox County. A customer at the fast-food restaurant noticed there was a baby inside the unattended, black Dodge Neon and called 911 just after 8 a.m.
Officials said the child appears to be unharmed, but emergency personnel drove the baby to East Tennessee Children's Hospital for observation as a precaution.
KPD confirmed that the mother left her baby unattended inside her running car when she went inside the Weigel's convenience on Merchants Drive store shortly before 6:30 a.m.
Authorities said they believe a 1994, white Chevy Cavalier dropped off the suspect at the gas station before he stole the car. Officials said they're still searching for the white coupe and suspect.
KPD said the suspect has blonde hair and a scruffy goatee. He's possibly 6'0" and weighs about 150 pounds. The suspect could be wearing a grey or green hoodie and blue jeans.
UPDATE: 8:57 am:
Knoxville police confirmed that officers found a 4-month-old baby safely inside a stolen car in west Knox County shortly before 8:15 a.m. Friday.
Police found the baby inside of the abandoned, stolen Dodge Neon on the McDonald's on Hardin Valley Road.
KPD released a picture (pictured below) of the suspect accused of stealing the car with the baby inside in north Knoxville. Officers said they believe a white coupe dropped off the suspect before he stole the black Dodge Neon at the Weigel's convenience store off Merchants Drive.
Officials confirmed that the mother left the 4-month-old unattended in her running car when she went into the gas station shortly before 6:30 a.m.
(WBIR) Knox County dispatchers said someone stole a car with a baby boy inside in north Knoxville Friday morning.
Officials said someone stole a 2004 black Dodge Neon from the Weigels on the 1700 block Merchants Drive at about 6:30 a.m. The car's Tennessee license plate number is G08-92U and the passenger side mirror is missing.
Dispatch reports that the suspect has blonde hair and a scruffy goatee. He's possibly 5'7" and weighs about 150 pounds. The suspect could be wearing black pants and a black shirt.
Knoxville police confirmed that the mother left the 4-month-old unattended in her car when she went into the Weigel's.
We don't have much information at this time, but we'll keep you updated on 10News and wbir.com.