An attempted kidnapping at a Southwest Arkansas food truck was blocked thanks to the swift actions by a mom and a police officer
By JOEL PHELPS | arkadelphian.com
CADDO VALLEY, Arkansas — Single mother Thea Tyler noticed a northbound hitchhiker Tuesday morning on Highway 7/67 in Arkadelphia, but she thought little of it. Later that day, the hitchhiker would cause Tyler and her 7-year-old daughter the scare of a lifetime.
The hitchhiker, identified as 43-year-old Jacob Harvey Allred, is now in police custody at the Clark County Jail, where he is being held on continued detention. He was arrested soon after Caddo Valley police were summoned to Harvey Fish food truck, where Allred allegedly snatched Tyler’s daughter before he was tackled and fled to a truck stop down the street. The incident happened at about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Tyler, who works at the food truck, recounted the scary scene in an interview with arkadelphian.com. She had cooked a meal for her two children and their 22-year-old babysitter, who were all at the outside dining area. As Tyler rounded a corner from the kitchen to the dining area, she noticed the hitchhiker.
Tyler said she and the babysitter soon felt uncomfortable in his presence, as instead of ordering food he claimed to be headed to Washington, DC, to talk to President Barack Obama about aliens (a police report indicates that Allred is from Santee, California).
It was then that the hitchhiker put his arm around the babysitter. “She freaked out and punched him, and he laughed it off,” Tyler said. They told him to leave, but the event took a scary turn when he allegedly grabbed Tyler’s daughter.
“He grabbed her around the waist and said, ‘You’re so beautiful, I love you,’” Tyler said. That’s when the single mom went into full protection mode: “He made three steps [carrying my daughter] and I started hitting him in his back,” Tyler said, adding the punches had no effect until she kicked the abductor in the back of his knees, causing him to drop the girl. More punches from mom followed as she screamed for someone to call 911. The abductor then fled north on Valley Street. Tyler recounted that he laughed maniacally as he ran toward the I-30 overpass.
CVPD Officer Byron Johnson arrived at the food truck. In his report, Johnson notes he was directed to the Pilot Travel Center to search for a white male wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans. “I went into the back door of the Pilot and saw a man matching the description,” Johnson noted. The suspect — reportedly studying an atlas at the time Johnson entered the travel center — surrendered without further incident.
Tyler and company would later identify the captured suspect as the alleged abductor, and Johnson transported Allred to the jail. Allred remained in custody Thursday morning.
Tyler said she hasn’t slept since the incident. “It keeps replaying in my mind,” she said. “My daughter was right beside me. It makes no sense.”
The whole scenario played out in about 2 minutes from the moment the man began conversing about Obama to the time they were able to fight him off, Tyler said.
Tyler urges witnesses of a crime to act promptly: “If you see something, do something — even if it’s just calling 911,” she said.