POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WIAT) — UPDATE 1:52PM: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirms the man accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old Florida girl has been taken into custody outside Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Polk County Sheriff Judd said abductor West Wild Hogs was in the hospital parking lot when a security guard recognized the vehicle and immediately called Memphis Police who responded immediately and recovered Rebecca Ann Lewis and took Hogs into custody.
Judd credited social media, media outlets, the people, and all involved law enforcement in the safe recovery of the young girl.
Rebecca’s family spoke, full of emotion and gratitude, at an afternoon press conference.
“Our baby’s coming home,” grandmother Oma Mae Lewis cried.
You can watch the press conference below, or click here if you don’t see the video.
UPDATE 1:45 PM OCT. 10: Memphis police say a car matching the AMBER alert description has been pulled over.
We spoke with their PIO who is headed to the scene now to confirm. We’ve asked that they update us as soon as they can when they confirm if Hogs and Lewis were in the vehicle. Stay with WIAT for the latest in this developing story.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has issued a statewide AMBER Alert after a confirmed sighting in Nashville of a Florida 4-year-old taken by a family friend.
Rebecca Lewis and the man accused of kidnapping her, 31-year-old West Wild Hogs, were last seen in Nashville at 2:30 a.m. at Daily’s convenience store at Antioch Pike and Interstate 24.
Authorities used a bank card connected to Hogs and surveillance video to verify the sighting.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd of Florida has a message for the suspected kidnapper, who legally changed his name to West Wild Hogs from Matthew Clark Pybus: “Don’t you hurt that baby.”
Rebecca was last seen around 9 a.m. Saturday, when her 16-year-old sister saw her sleeping in her bed at the Lazy Dazy Retreat RV/Mobile Home on Highway 98 North in Florida.
The sister fell back asleep and when she woke up at 9:45 a.m., the little girl was gone.
Investigators say she is with Hogs, who is a long-time family friend but had not seen the family in over two years.
He showed up on Friday to Rebecca’s grandmother’s house in Polk City.
He was asked to leave the family’s home over two years ago after pulling a gun on the family, according to Sheriff Judd.
Judd said Hogs suffers from depression and bipolar disorder. It’s not clear if he is armed.
TENNESSEE AMBER ALERT
The AMBER Alert has been expanded through most of the southeast, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, for Lewis.
The TBI was asked by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Sunday to issue an alert. Since the TBI felt there was no specific information the child was in Tennessee at the time they did not able to issue an AMBER Alert.
They did, however, issue a Be-On-The-Lookout notice for law enforcement.
Only after the two were spotted in Nashville and that sighting confirmed did the TBI expand the AMBER Alert to all of Tennessee.
We are confident we have done everything possible – within the bounds of our established policies and practices – to assist authorities in Florida, given the information available to us throughout this event. We remain in constant contact with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and stand prepared to assist in any way as this ongoing search effort continues,” said the TBI in a statement Monday.
An AMBER Alert has now been enacted through most of the southeast, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, for missing 4-year-old Rebecca Lewis.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says the AMBER Alert was expanded in East Tennessee after an alleged sighting of Rebecca Lewis and 31-year-old West Wild Hogs, the man she’s believed to be with.
According to Judd, Hogs, a former truck driver, was last seen around 2:30 a.m. Monday in Nashville.
Before that, the pair was seen in the area of Cove Lake State Park, in Campbell County, Tennessee — which is near Interstate 75 close to Tennessee/Kentucky border. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says sometime between 10 to 11 p.m. Sunday night a park ranger reported seeing a man and child matching Hogs and Rebecca’s description at the park.
Law Enforcement agencies in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama are aware of the sighting and area news agencies in those states are also reporting the sighting.
Grady Judd is pleading the public to help in the search for the girl. “I’m not above a bunch of good ol’ boys grabbing that 4 year old girl,” he said.
For more information on the timeline of Lewis’ abduction and Hog’s background with the family, watch the below press conference:
Judd says the Tennessee park ranger saw Hogs and the girl, and he told him he was waiting on the child’s mother. Judd emphasized that Tennessee did not issue an AMBER alert despite them asking for one to be disseminated in the state. The ranger later realized the pair were the subject of a missing person alert in the state.
Judd says Hogs is bipolar and suffers from depression. He says at this point, Hogs does not appear to be violent.
“The most important thing now is that we recover the baby,” Judd said. “We think someone, someplace that pays attention will see this car.”
Judd says Hogs has no technology with him, so there is no way for them to track him in real time. He says officials are about seven and a half hours behind them in tracking them.
Judd also explained Hogs background with the family. He says Hogs lived with Lewis’ family two years ago until they forced him to leave after he pulled a gun on them. He does not have a criminal history, except for that instance. His wife left him on Thursday. He is not on any medication for his mental illness, Judd says.
Please share this post and send to anyone in the states included in the AMBER alert or anyone who may travel in those areas such as truck drivers. The sheriff is pleading for the community to treat Lewis’ abduction as if she were your own child that was taken.
“If you see him and her together, dial 911,” Judd said. He said if you see him, you should be able to engage him in conversation while someone else calls 911 because he was calm and collected when he spoke to the park ranger in Tennessee.
UPDATE OCT. 10, 7:41 AM: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that there was a possible sighting of Rebecca Ann Lewis. An AMBER Alert is now enacted in Tennessee and Kentucky.
UPDATE OCT. 9, 9:30 PM: The Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday evening that the Heartland CrimeStoppers are offering a $3,000 reward in this case.
UPDATE OCT. 9, 6:20PM: Our affiliate WRBL in Columbus, Ga. reports authorities believe Hogs may be headed to Russell County, Ala. where he reportedly has a hunting trailer.
More details have emerged about Rebecca’s disappearance as well. Our Florida affiliate WFLA reports Hogs is a long-time family friend but he has been out of the picture for the last year or so. He showed up on Friday to Rebecca’s grandmother’s house, Oma Mae Lewis, in Polk City. A witness told investigators they saw Rebecca and West Hogs at the McDonalds across from the Lazy Dazy Retreat RV/Mobile Home on Highway 98 North around 9:30 Saturday morning.
UPDATE OCT. 9, 1:30 AM CT: The Polk County Sheriff recently posted an update on Facebook. They said missing 4-year-old Rebecca Ann Lewis and her alleged abductor West Hogs were seen in Forsyth, Georgia but remain at large.
The post says Rebecca is wearing a pink dress, and they were traveling in the stolen silver Nissan Versa with Alabama handicap license plate 4JL26. They were spotted on camera filling up at a gas station off I-75 around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Officials said in the update posted approximately two hours earlier that they are still at large.
Hogs was wearing a light colored t-shirt and blue jeans. Officials say Rebecca appeared to be in good health. Their direction of travel is unknown, other than north out of Florida. He does have ties to the Seale, Alabama area, located in Russell County southeast of Auburn/Opelika.
A dedicated hotline has been set up for any tips or information about Rebecca’s abduction. Please call 1-877-419-0934 with any information.
ALEA has issued an AMBER Alert in the abduction of a four-year-old girl in Florida by a man with Alabama plates. The girl is believed to be in extreme danger, the release from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said.
Rebecca Ann Lewis, 4, is described as three-feet-tall, 30 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Lewis was last seen on Saturday between 8 and 10 a.m. in Lakeland located in South Central Florida. She was wearing blue shorts and a shirt of an unknown color.
Lewis was reportedly taken by a man named West Wild Hogs, also known as Matthew Clark Pybus, who is a white male that stands at 5’6″ and weighs 256 pounds. Hogs has blonde/strawberry hair and blue eyes. He legally changed his name to West Wild Hogs and is reportedly from the Seale, Alabama area.
Hogs was reportedly driving a 2012 Nissan Versa with Alabama license plate “4JL26” with a handicap tag. The vehicle was reported to be stolen. The child is believed to be in “extreme danger” according to the release.
Around 11:12 a.m. Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to 6211 U.S. Hwy. 98 North #H18 Lakeland for a reported missing child.The victim’s 16-year-old sister last saw her sleeping at about 9:00 a.m, deputies say.
Around 9:45 the sister woke back up and the victim was not in bed. According Rebecca’s parents, they searched the area for over an hour before calling law enforcement. Once deputies arrived, they conducted multiple searches of the residence and conducted a house by house search of the park with negative results.Sheriff’s Office K-9 and bloodhound responded and conducted searches with negative results. The PCSO helicopter also responded to assist deputies with the search.
If you have any information on their whereabouts, state troopers are asking you to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 1-863-307-2450; Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at 1-800-228-7688; or call 911.