Judge to decide bail on kidnap charge in abandoned boy case
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge could decide Monday whether a woman accused of abandoning a toddler in north Mississippi is granted bail.
Turliscea Turner appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday in an online hearing. At the request of Turner’s attorney, who said he needed more time to speak to his client and develop evidence, Judge Annie T. Christoff continued the hearing until Monday.
The 29-year-old Turner and 34-year-old Jeremy Fitzgerald are both charged with kidnapping, with officials alleging they abandoned the 2-year-old boy at a Goodwill drop-off center in Southaven on Monday.
No court appearance for Fitzgerald is scheduled in online records.
Reports indicated the boy was left with a plastic bag that had a change of clothes and a note written on a paper towel saying, “child abandoned... no phone number for mom.” Because of his age, he could not tell authorities about his parents or his own name.
Fitzgerald and Turner were seen on surveillance video at a neighboring gas station. Prosecutors say they drove across the state line with an unknown third person, making what they were doing a federal crime.
The child’s mother, Antoinette Smith, said she left her son with Turner to go to Nashville with Fitzgerald, with prosecutors saying Turner was posing as Fitzgerald’s sister. On the trip, Smith claims Fitzgerald tried to force her into prostitution, then abandoned her in Nashville when she refused.
Fitzgerald is also accused of calling the toddler’s aunt, demanding money for his safe return. He was eventually arrested in the Memphis suburb of Cordova after crashing into another car while trying to flee officers. Turner was arrested inside a nearby supermarket.
The charges are supposed to go before a grand jury for indictment later. Both face prison sentences of at least 20 years if convicted.