Darlington, SC - DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - A second suspect at the center of an AMBER Alert issued in Hartsville on Wednesday has been arrested in Bishopville, according to the Darlington County Sheriff's Office.
Johnathen Smith, 29, was detained by deputies in Darlington County after eluding authorities Thursday morning at a home on Berry Road in Bishopville. Smith's escape prompted a manhunt by the Darlington County Bloodhound Team in a wooded area in close proximity to the home.
Deputies were able to apprehend Smith in Bishopville just before 1 p.m.
"It wasn't no kidnapping," Smith said as he was being arrested. "The woman is my girlfriend. I've known her for 12 years. I'd help take care of the kids. She called me and said she wanted to chill with me. I gave her a ride [and] she brought the baby with her."
"If he's just giving her a ride, then we wouldn't be out here in this hot sun trying to hunt him down," Capt. Andy Locklair, spokesman for the Darlington County Sheriff's Office, shot back. "If he didn't do anything wrong he needs to come see us and talk with us."
Locklair said deputies apprehended Kimberly Steen, 25, after receiving an anonymous tip leading to her location earlier Thursday morning. Locklair said Steen was arrested at a home on Berry Road in Bishopville.
"We got a tip from a person that they were in the [Bishopville area]," Locklair said. "Working on that tip - that's when we found both of them in [the house]."
Both Smith and Steen are wanted on kidnapping charges in connection to the disappearance of Justice Alexandra Deaja Peterson, 5, of Hartsville. Peterson's grandmother reported the child missing from her home at 2459 Sampit Dr. at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The grandmother claimed Peterson was taken by Steen, her biological mother. Steen, according to officials, did not have custodial rights of the 5-year-old.
"I woke up at 12 [and] I answered my phone. Her mom said if she didn't have the kid home by 7, she was going to call the police," Smith said. "But she already called the police because I woke up at 12. I didn't kidnap nobody. I just gave them a ride."
The conditions on which Peterson was abducted prompted the State Law Enforcement Division to issue a statewide AMBER Alert early Wednesday afternoon. Hours after the statewide alert, a relative of Smith dropped the 5-year-old off at the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
It is unknown if both Smith and Steen will face any additional charges in connection to the case. Both remain in custody at the Darlington County Detention Center, where they await a bond hearing.