Flagstaff, AZ – On December 02, 2020 the U.S. Marshals Service led Arizona WANTED Violent Offenders Task Force, working in conjunction with deputies in Las Vegas, Nevada and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, arrested Ashley Thomas (29) and Shawn Johnson (45) on the felony charge of abduction of a child from a state agency.
"Child abduction investigations, especially those involving family members can be very confusing and complicated," said United States Marshal David Gonzales. "Our focus is the health and safety of the child."
On November 19, 2020, the Flagstaff Police Department requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service District of Arizona-Flagstaff Division with the location of a missing 3-year-old child. Due to an investigation discovering child abuse, Thomas (mother) was ordered to not have contact with the child who was initially placed in the custody of Johnson (grandmother). Thomas is alleged to have abused the child, resulting in major injuries to include a lacerated liver while in her care. It was later discovered that Johnson was allowing Thomas contact with the child and an order was issued by the Coconino County Superior Court to pick up the minor child and place in the custody of the Department of Child Services. Thomas and Johnson failed to turn over the child and fled; resulting in warrants being issued for their arrests and a Missing Child Unit Case being opened with the U.S. Marshals Service.
Thomas and Johnson were believed to have fled to the Las Vegas, Nevada area with the minor child. A request for assistance was forwarded to U.S. Marshal Deputies in the District of Nevada, to attempt to locate and apprehend Thomas and Johnson, and recover the child. On November 25, 2020, deputies and officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department located Johnson at her residence, though Thomas and the child were not located at that time. Johnson was arrested on her outstanding warrant; she refused to provide any details as to the whereabouts of Thomas or the child.
On November 30, 2020, U.S. Marshals Service District of Arizona-Flagstaff Division received information on a possible location for Thomas in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This information was forwarded to the Western District of Oklahoma. At approximately 3pm on December 02, 2020 deputies conducted an apprehension and recovery operation at a residence associated with Thomas, where she was located, arrested, and the minor child was safely recovered.
Ashley Thomas and Shawn Johnson were transported to local jails where they await extradition back to Coconino County, AZ. The missing child was recovered and returned to the protection of the Department of Child Services.
The U.S. Marshals Service supports the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's (NCMEC) mission to protect children from victimization by providing assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Since the U.S. Marshals’ partnership with NCMEC began in 2005, the Marshals have helped recover 1,507 missing children.
A critical mission of the U.S. Marshals Service is enforcement of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The U.S. Marshals Service is committed to assisting local and state law enforcement with investigating and apprehending sex offenders who are not in compliance with their registration and fugitive sex offenders. The U.S. Marshals Service led Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Task Force is responsible for more than 1748 arrests in the last year.