The boy’s paternal grandmother, Debbie Wesler, had obtained permission from the child’s mother, Amanda Turner, for the boy, Thomas Evan Diggs, to spend the night with her, according to Talladega Police Chief Alan Watson.
The child’s father, Thomas Eric Diggs, 35, of Oxford, was with the child and grandmother at Arby’s on Battle Street in Talladega. The father volunteered to take the boy home to the grandmother’s house after they finished eating. She agreed, but the boy and his father never showed up. The father has visitation rights but not sole custody, according to court documents.
Watson said Turner called Wesler the following afternoon to find out when to pick up the child. It was at this point that the mother found out the father had taken the young boy and contacted the Talladega Police Department.
A warrant for custodial interference against the father was signed Saturday by Talladega County Circuit Judge Julian King, Watson said.
Information on the father, son and their vehicle was entered with the National Crime Information Center, and a statewide Be On the Look Out (BOLO) was issued after the abduction was reported Saturday afternoon. A state media alert was issued Wednesday.
Watson added that the case did not meet all the necessary criteria for an Amber alert.
Television stations in Birmingham were contacted Saturday night.
Agencies in several other areas where Diggs is likely to be have been contacted as well, Watson said.
“This is our top priority right now,” he said. “We’re responding to and investigating every piece of information that comes in, and we’re monitoring social media, which is also an excellent way to get the word out there. Anyone that has any information should get in touch with us as soon as possible.”
The statewide media alert said that Diggs may be headed to Daytona Beach, and Watson said authorities there have also been notified.
According to court documents, both parents were given joint custody after their divorce in 2008. In 2011, full custody was awarded to the mother, Amanda Turner, with detailed visitation for Diggs, including Dec. 25 through Jan. 1. Diggs has filed a motion to have full custody transferred to him, but the motion has not been heard.
Diggs is a 35-year-old white male with blue eyes and brown hair. He is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 195 pounds, although he may have lost weight recently. He was last seen wearing a multi-tone green sweater, blue jeans and white shoes. He drives a white 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the license plate BA14549.
The son is approximately 3 feet tall and weighs about 65 pounds, with blondish hair. He was last seen wearing camouflaged pants and a Gap jacket with a John Deere shirt.
Friends of the family have organized a Prayer For Evan today at 9:45 a.m. in front of the courthouse. All are welcome to attend, and fliers will be passed out to help raise awareness.
Anyone with information on this incident or the boy’s current whereabouts should contact the Talladega Police, Detective Division at 256-362-4508 or call the anonymous tip line at 256-299-0011.
After hours, please call central dispatch at 256-362-4162.
Custodial interference is a Class C felony in Alabama, punishable upon conviction by one year and one day to 10 years in prison.
(Editor’s note: In an earlier story, The Daily Home, relying on information from others, reported that the incident occurred on Saturday, Dec. 22 and reported that the grandmother had at one time had full custody of the child. Both are incorrect, and we apologize for the misinformation.)
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.