A 9-year-old Memphis girl is safe after investigators say she was forcibly taken across state lines by her father. The girl and her father were found in New Mexico, and dashcams recorded the scene.
Tuesday morning, Zamyriah White’s mother says the child’s father, Brenton White, snatched her as she was being dropped off for school at Northaven Elementary School.
“The mother of the 9-year-old was getting ready to drop her daughter off at school, he approached the car and took the 9-year-old forcibly from the car in Northaven,” said Shelby County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner.
According to authorities, this may have all stemmed from domestic issues between Zamyriah’s parents. Investigators say Zamyriah, her mother, father, and siblings had moved to Memphis from St. Louis earlier this month, but the couple started having issues.
“She decided that she was going to break the relationship off and that she didn’t want to have any other contact with him and that’s what sparked all of this,” Bonner explained. “Right now, naturally the custodial, who has custodial rights of the children, is one of the big issues because they were not married from what we understand.”
Investigators spent hours on the phone with Brenton White Tuesday and Wednesday to try to get the child back home safely. We are told White did not harm or threaten the child. Although investigators did not believe Zamyriah was in immediate danger, her father has been convicted before for theft and domestic violence, and he was wanted for forgery and custody violations.
After a frantic nationwide search, officers found the young girl in Grants, New Mexico, which is more than 1,000 miles from Memphis. Deputies say police in New Mexico used spike strips to stop White’s car with Zamyriah inside. They say she was not in any danger.
“When they approached the car, he still wouldn’t open the window or the door, and they smashed the window of the car to get the children out,” Bonner said.
Brenton White’s 19-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and her child were also in the car. They did suffer minor injuries from the window breaking but are said to be okay.
Once authorities find out who has custodial rights of Zamyriah, that will determine Brenton White’s charges in Shelby County.
Brenton White is also charged in Grants, New Mexico with obstructing, 2 counts of resisting a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, 4 counts of child abuse, 2 counts of aggravated assault upon a peace officer (deadly weapon), and aggravated battery upon a peace officer (deadly weapon).
White is being held in Milan, New Mexico, without the eligibility of bond.