Child abduction charge filed against mother at center of Cary AMBER Alert

Thursday, August 11, 2022
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The missing 5-year-old at the center of an AMBER Alert out of Cary has been found safe.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The missing 5-year-old at the center of an AMBER Alert out of Cary has been found safe.

The girl went missing Wednesday when her mother, Crystal Beatrice Walston, 36, reportedly stole a Ford Escape belonging to UNC REX after attacking two employees.

"On Wednesday afternoon, a behavioral health patient stole a vehicle from UNC Health Rex Hospital in Raleigh and fled the property," UNC's Alan Wolf told ABC11. "Two hospital employees suffered minor injuries."

That Ford Escape was found later in Sanford. Investigators then believed Walston and her daughter were traveling in a silver Lexus.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, State Highway Patrol received a call from a driver who was behind that same Lexus on Interstate 40 eastbound near US-70 south of Raleigh.

Troopers caught up with the Lexus and tried to get the driver to pull over. Instead, the driver sped off, starting a chase.

Troopers eventually, and safely, stopped the vehicle. Inside, Walston was driving and the missing 5-year-old was a passenger. Both were unharmed.

Walston was taken into custody in Johnston County.

Cary Police Department said Thursday that Walston faced a criminal charge of child abduction. The case will be handled by the Wake County District Attorney and more charges from other districts could be filed later.

Surveillance video from inside John Elliason's Cary car dealership, Import Performance, show Crystal Walston and her daughter heading into a back office to use the phone.

"She made it seem like she was ready to buy a car, but looking at a vehicle double her budget," said Elliason. "She made claims that she's trying to run away from her boyfriend because her boyfriend was abusing her daughter. She needed a different vehicle."

Another video shows Walston taking a key off the keyboard. Two days later Elliason reported an Infiniti Q50 stolen from his lot.

ABC11 spoke to Walston's mother, Brenda Reid. She said she's had custody of her granddaughter for a year as her daughter recovered from drug addiction. She also said her daughter had been involuntarily committed to UNC REX last Friday. 911 calls paint a picture of what happened after Walston attacked two staffers before stealing a hospital SUV.

"We need someone to come to REX hospital. We had a patient steal a vehicle. She's on the highway and she's driving mad and crazy," the caller exclaimed frantically. "We got security cars chasing the car. She's running people down. You need to hurry up."

There was a break in the case Thursday morning when Angelica Coffey was driving to drop her children off at their grandmother's house before she headed to work. She spotted the Lexus SUV and the license plate. She called police.

"Is this for real? Is this happening right now? The car is in front of me. I was in shock," said Coffey. "They asked if I could follow the car until deputies arrived and that's what I did. I was determined to save this little girl. I have a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old. So, of course I hope they'd do the same to me if my kids got kidnapped. I hope people would be out on the lookout."