Unified Police find missing Utah toddler
Fugitive father • Detectives seek homeless man who last had the 15-month-old girl.
Published: May 7, 2014 08:10PM
Updated: May 7, 2014 08:16PM
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Sophea Larsen (UPD photo)

Unified Police have found a missing 15-month-old girl they have been searching for over the past two days.

Sophea Larsen was dropped off at the child’s grandfather’s home, and he contacted police.

Police first became involved after a 3rd District Court “writ of assistance” was issued last week, ordering law enforcement agencies to assist in seeing that Sophea be restored to the custody of her mother, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

On Tuesday, UPD officers in Taylorsville located 39-year-old Jamie Webb, the homeless biological father of the child. However, when officers approached Webb to serve him with the court custody order, he fled on foot, abandoning his car.

Webb managed to elude police. A subsequent search of his vehicle, a 2003 model white Oldsmobile Bravada, failed to turn up any clues to the girl’s whereabouts.

Since that foot pursuit, a missing and endangered child alert went out and between 30 and 60 officers were tracking down leads in the case, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference. UPD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were involved in finding Webb, who has not been located.

“In these situations we can vilify people; I want to thank the gentleman for dropping the child off,” Winder said. “But if Mr. Webb is watching, we need to talk to you and we will talk to you and resolve this in a civil and rational way.”

Winder said Sophea had been at several different locations over the past three months — when her mother had legal custody but she was with her father. Webb’s relatives told police they didn’t realize the girl’s father wasn’t supposed to have her, and they cooperated as soon as they learned otherwise, Winder said.

Sophea appeared to be in good condition during the press conference.

On March 17, a warrant was issued for Webb’s arrest in connection with the alleged choking of the child’s mother on Feb. 18 at a West Valley City residence; Webb then took the toddler with him. The $50,000 warrant alleges third-degree felony offenses of aggravated assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, according to 3rd District Court records.

Court information describes Webb as the girl’s biological father. Other court documents show that Webb and the girl’s mother had an ongoing paternity and child support dispute.

Winder said he wasn’t sure about any kind of kidnapping charges in this situation, and that his agency’s interest was in the aggravated assault charge Webb faces.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims