GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. — A New York man arrested in the abduction of his ex-girlfriend’s daughter claimed to be the 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl’s father, but police said Friday that the mother says that isn’t true.
Peter Tarbox, 39, and his mother were driving to their home in Norwood, N.Y., when a police officer in Gouverneur spotted their car at a gas station late Thursday night, Gouverneur Police Chief Gordon Ayen Jr. said. The officer took them into custody without incident, Ayen said.
The girl, Alexandria Jade Long, was found safe in the vehicle and was reunited with her mother at the Gouverneur police station Friday morning, police said.
The FBI was taking over the investigation, agency spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski said.
Pennsylvania State Police issued an Amber Alert after they determined Alexandria had been abducted Thursday afternoon from her home in Gordon, Schuylkill County.
The girl’s mother and Tarbox had lived together in Norwood, but the couple broke up several years ago, police said. Edward Tarantelli, the police chief in Butler Township, Schuylkill County, said the mother had remarried and the family had moved to the area earlier this year. Tarbox and the girl recently connected on Facebook but the mother found out and blocked him from communicating with her daughter, Tarantelli said.
Tarbox showed up at the girl’s house Thursday and asked if she wanted to live with him, Ayen said. Tarbox told police the girl said yes and voluntarily left with him, the Gouverneur police chief said. Pennsylvania police were able to reach Tarbox on his cellphone, and he told them he had the girl and didn’t intend to return her to her home, Tarantelli said.
Ayen said Tarbox told Gouverneur police that Alexandria was his daughter. But the girl’s mother told Pennsylvania police that he isn’t the biological father and had no parental rights, Tarantelli said.
Tarbox’s claim of fatherhood is “going to be looked into,” Tarantelli said. But “even if that is the case, to our knowledge, there is nothing giving him any kind of parental custody of the girl.”
Police in the upstate village were aware of the Amber Alert that included a description Tarbox’s car. Ayen said one of his officers saw the car in Gouverneur, 35 miles from his home in Norwood, and took Tarbox and his 55-year-old mother, Annette Williams, into custody.
They were both being held in jail awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania, where their case will be handled by federal prosecutors, Tarantelli said. He said Tarbox and Williams are facing charges in Pennsylvania that include kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child and the interference with the custody of a child.
New York prosecutors say they’ll likely be represented by a public defender.