Kidnapped Pennsylvania girl found alive — but she still can’t go home

Pennsylvania
Stephanie Moates, Pennsylvania kidnapping

FRANKLIN CO., Pa. (CNN Newsource) – It’s been a week since a 4-year-old in Franklin County, Pennsylvania was kidnapped and then found 2.5 miles from her home. However, she still hasn’t been returned to her mother and father.

The good news is Stephanie Moates will get to have a supervised one-hour visit with her daughter on Friday. The bad news is she will have to wait until Monday in court to see if the little girl can come back home.

On April 25, Moates woke up to every mother’s worst nightmare.

“My husband had woken up around 3 to go to the bathroom and Gemma’s room is right next to the bathroom. He realized her door was open and he went to peek in, and that’s when he realized she wasn’t there. He had came down the steps, panicking because she wasn’t in her room,” she said.

After canvassing the neighborhood, Moates called the police.

“They continued to search. They had the National Guard, they had the helicopter,” Moates said.

At 10 a.m., they found Gemma on the side of a road 2.5 miles from her house.

“They had taken her to the hospital and said she was unharmed, but had been taped and bound and locked in a box. I find that traumatizing,” Moates said.

Per a safety plan put into place by Children and Youth Services, Gemma was taken into custody and Moates’ other two kids are staying with family.

“They do a safety plan to make sure that the kids are safe when the abductor isn’t found,” Moates said. “We had to go to court and we had to sign papers, saying it’s OK for Children and Youth to keep her and the other kids. That way, if he would come back, my kids wouldn’t be here.”

Hours later, though, the suspect — Thomas Andrew Dewald — was caught.

“To be able to look at her and tape her up, it just makes me sick,” Moates said.

On Friday, Moates will see Gemma for an hour.

“I can’t wait to see her tomorrow. I’m going to hold her and I’m probably going to cry because that’s all I’ve been able to do,” she said.

Until then, she’ll be painting her little girl’s room in an attempt to erase the horrible memories left behind by her daughter’s abductor.

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