Police are scouring the South for a toddler who hasn't been seen since Thanksgiving. According to published reports, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott says they're still getting very little help from the mother of the missing toddler about that child's whereabouts.
The boy's mother, Zinah Jennings, 22, was taken into custody Dec. 24, when Jennings crashed her Dodge Neon into a tree near her home in Columbia, S.C.
Jennings' mother, Jocelyn Jennings Nelson, called Columbia police on Dec. 8 to report Jennings' 18-month-old son, Amir, missing. Amir's grandmother was concerned because her daughter had gotten into a separate car accident several days earlier and made "cryptic phone calls to other family members indicating her ongoing fight with depression is continuing," police said in a report.
"Zinah was not necessarily reported as missing," said Jocelyn, "It was the child that I was concerned with because I had actually seen her the night before."
Amir's biological father told police he last saw his son during Thanksgiving. That's when Jennings left Columbia en route to Atlanta with Amir to stay with her sister. Police were able to confirm that Jennings and Amir had indeed arrived in Atlanta. Police are analyzing video surveillance tapes to determine Amir's last location in Atlanta.
During 3 days of interrogation, Jennings told police, first, that she had no son. Then she told police that she left the boy with her sister in Atlanta.
"First it's, 'He's with my sister in Atlanta. Oh no, I'm sorry, he's with my friend in Charlotte,'" said Scott. "It's all over the place. ... Everything she's telling us is just lies."
Scott was also concerned about a bizarre statement Jennings made during the interrogation:
"During an interview with her, when I mentioned she would be going to jail, she said, 'That's the place I need to be,'" said Scott.
When her lies failed to lead police to the boy, Jennings was charged with unlawful conduct toward a child by lying to police, and she was jailed on a $150,000 bond.
"I'm trying to stay optimistic about this," Scott said. "But short of being optimistic, this case bothers me."
Thanks to loyal readers KDub and TPTotalPackage for the tips.