More than five years after a North Carolina mother and her then-1-year-old daughter vanished, they were found safe just 20 miles away from home.
Amber Renaye Weber, then 21, and daughter Miracle Smith were found at a home in Bunnlevel, N.C., Tuesday, the U.S. Marshals announced.
Weber and Smith were last seen on Dec. 4, 2016, in Fayetteville and reported missing several weeks later on Jan. 31. All leads went cold until Fayetteville Police Department’s Investigative Assistant Sonia Roldan took over the investigation a year ago and began collaborating with the U.S. Marshals.
The U.S. Marshals said the investigation “developed information” that the missing child and mother were in Bunnlevel and “may be associated with (Joe) Smith,” who was arrested on Jan. 19 for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Officials found Miracle at the Bunnlevel home and turned her “and her sibling over to the Harnett County Department of Social Services to provide victim assistance.”
Four guns were also found at the home.
Brandon Taylor, a deputy U.S. Marshal with the Investigative Operations Division, told the Daily News that Amber gave birth to Miracle’s sibling after the pair went missing, but could not identify the child’s father.
Police did not disclose their relationship to Smith, but Taylor told The News that he appears to be Miracle’s grandfather.
Amber and Miracle were previously abused before they went missing, according to officials.
Monty Weber, Amber’s father, told CBS17 that she had been staying with her sister before vanishing, then “took off in the middle of the night” with the baby.
“The culmination of years of following leads and tips resulted in the outcome that we had all hoped for today; the successful recovery of a child who had been missing since December 2016,” Michael East, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said in a statement.
“The U.S. Marshals Service and our investigative partners will not quit, nor be deterred, until these children are rescued.”