PENN HILLS, Pa. (AP) — A woman accused of driving off with a toddler as her father got out of the car has alleged the dad told her to deliver the kid to another woman because he had “sold” his daughter, authorities said Monday.
Sharena Islam Nancy, 25, who works as a ride-hailing service driver, has been charged with kidnapping of a minor, custodial interference and concealment of the whereabouts of a child, all felonies, in the disappearance of Nalani Johnson, who will be two years old this month.
Johnson’s grandmother has denied the child’s father had any involvement in the kidnapping.
Allegheny County police said the child’s father told investigators in Penn Hills that he and a friend were riding in a car driven by Nancy on Saturday evening. When he got out of the car and was moving to get the child out of her car seat, Nancy drove off, he alleged.
After an Amber Alert was issued, the car was found, and Nancy was taken into custody, but neither the child nor her car seat was found. Police say the vehicle went to Blairsville, New Alexandria, and Delmont in Westmoreland County and asked anyone who saw anything that might help to call investigators. On Monday evening, they urged people to be on the lookout for the missing car seat.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Nancy alleges the father “sold” the toddler for $10,000 and, on his instructions, she turned the girl over to a woman at a roadside rendezvous. She alleged that she was told to drive 20 minutes from a Monroeville gas station. There, she saw a parked silver sports utility vehicle with out-of-state plates, and she gave the child to a woman standing outside the car. Police wrote in the criminal complaint that they found no evidence of a silver SUV in the area at the time.
No attorney was listed in court documents for Nancy, and a listed number for her could not be found.
The child’s grandmother, Taji Walsh, dismissed the allegations, telling reporters that if the police thought the father was involved “he wouldn’t be walking freely — he’d be locked up like she is.”
“It’s unbelievable,” Walsh told KDKA-TV. “This is a movie scene, and it’s my reality right now.”