The parents of three children who were taken from their Seward-area foster home were arrested Friday afternoon after the missing children were found in Cordova with their mother, according to troopers.
Melissa Salgado, 40, and Jeffrey Erickson, 46, both of Seward, were each arrested and charged with second-degree custodial interference, Alaska State Troopers spokesman Ken Marsh said.
Earlier Friday, troopers had asked for the public’s help finding Pepper Erickson, 9; Jedidiah “Fox” Erickson, 7; and Slate Erickson, 4, who were “wrongfully removed” from their foster home by an unknown woman. Their mother, Salgado, was also described as missing by troopers, who said her cellphone was turned off.
Troopers had expressed “concern the children could be anywhere along the road system.”
Late Monday, around 11:30 p.m., a woman who said she was sent by the state Office of Children’s Services came to the children’s foster home, according to troopers. The foster parents let the children leave with the woman, who gave her name as one that they “recognized as someone who they anticipated may be taking the children, but whom they had never met," troopers said.
But later, when they were shown a photo of the person the woman claimed to be, the foster parents said that wasn’t the same woman who took the children, according to troopers. Megan Peters, a troopers spokeswoman, said the woman who left with the children was not Salgado, but the woman’s identity remains unknown.
The Office of Children’s Services had asked troopers to perform a welfare check on the children around 6:05 p.m. Tuesday. Troopers determined Wednesday that the children had been wrongfully removed, and then issued an alert around midday Friday seeking the public’s help finding them.
On Friday afternoon, the three children were found with Salgado in Cordova, according to Cordova Police Chief Mike Hicks.
“We located them walking down the street,” Hicks said. “She (Salgado) was totally cooperative and her main concern was for her children,” Hicks said.
Marsh, with Alaska State Troopers, said he believes Salgado and the children flew to Cordova while Jeffrey Erickson stayed in Seward.
“Erickson is being remanded to the Seward Jail. Salgado is being remanded to the Cordova Jail,” troopers said in an online report. “The children were returned to OCS custody.”
Hicks, the Cordova police chief, said: “The main thing is everyone is safe, nobody got hurt, and everyone is safe and sound."
It was unclear why the children were in foster care. A spokesman with the state Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the Office of Children’s Services, said that while the office “cannot comment on the details of this case ... We are very grateful that the children were located and are safe."
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.