Barbara Jones froze when she got a phone call from her brother at work last week.
Thirteen-month-old Brandon, the infant for whom she’s been the legal guardian since he was 4 months old, was gone.
A woman claiming that she was from the Bibb County Department of Family and Children Services took him March 25, while Jones’ brother was at her West Highland Drive apartment baby-sitting.
Dana Artralia Wylie, 41, of a Chapman Drive address, is charged with kidnapping, impersonating a public employee and interference with child custody, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
Wylie declined to comment when contacted Wednesday afternoon.
Chief Deputy David Davis said Wylie called deputies about 1:40 p.m. March 25 and asked them to meet her so that she could take custody of a child.
“That’s a common occurrence,” Davis said. “It’s pretty routine.”
Wearing a lanyard with an ID, Wylie led deputies to believe that she worked for DFACS, Davis said.
Wylie then told deputies she needed to go and buy a child safety seat to transport the child, and she returned about 20 minutes later, according to a sheriff’s office report.
Jones’ brother, Terry Thomas, said two deputies and Wylie, who claimed she was from DFACS, had knocked on the apartment door and asked him to collect clothes for 1-year-old Brandon as well as other items.
He said he asked Wylie for paperwork explaining why she was taking the boy, but she provided none.
After getting a phone call from Thomas, Jones said she went to a cousin’s house and prayed before driving to the DFACS office, where she was told Wylie was not a DFACS employee.
She said she was shocked. The two women had met during a training class for foster parents that Wylie taught, Jones said.
When they learned what had happened, deputies went to Wylie’s home, where they arrested Wylie and returned the little boy to Jones.
“All I wanted to do was hug him and know he was all right,” Jones said of the reunion. Wylie was released from the Bibb County jail on $8,000 bond, Davis said. Martha Blue, deputy director of Bibb DFACS office, said Wylie is not a DFACS employee, although Wylie’s records at the Law Enforcement Center show that she told deputies she worked for the Georgia Department of Human Resources as a resource adviser. DFACS is a division of the Georgia Department of Human Resources. Blue said her office does teach classes to foster parents, but she’s not sure who taught Jones’ class. Davis said deputies are using the episode as a learning experience.
“The lesson learned here is that we’ve stressed with our officers that they make sure they check the credentials of the person they’re dealing with,” he said. Blue said all DFACS employees carry an ID badge that displays the name of Bibb County DFACS Director Marjorie Almand. If a person doubts the identity of a person claiming to work for DFACS, identities can be confirmed by calling 751-6051, she said.