Police: Newport News 3-month-old boy reportedly abducted by babysitter found safe in Chesterfield; suspect in custody

AMBER Alert was issued Thursday
Jiraiya Cherry.png
Posted at 4:37 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 22:30:49-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The Newport News Police Department says the 3-month-old boy who was reported missing Thursday morning has been found safe.

In an update during a press conference Thursday night, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said the child, Jiraiya Cherry, was found in Chesterfield.

Around 10:19 a.m. Thursday, police responded to the 13300 block of Preakness Drive in reference to a missing child. Jiraiya was reportedly abducted by an unknown babysitter.

Shortly after Newport News Police sent out their release, Virginia State Police and the Virginia Missing Children Clearinghouse issued an AMBER Alert for Jiraiya around 5 p.m.

The circumstances surrounding his disappearance remain under investigation.

The suspect is described as a Black female who is approximately 5'5" to 5'6" tall and has black dreadlocks to the middle of her back. She was last seen wearing a black face mask with a black jacket. Police say she is approximately 24 years old and speaks with a southern accent.

Drew said the person who had him is currently in custody.

Officials say the suspect was said to be driving a four-door silver sedan with Virginia plates.

Before the update saying Jiraiya was found, Chief Drew said officers would be searching for the baby all night and explained why the AMBER Alert came out late.

Drew also added officials believe the family is protecting the woman who is believed to be the babysitter, which is why police don't have her name. At the time, the chief said they had “breaking” leads.

The AMBER Alert has been canceled, and police say Jiraiya will be reunited with his family soon. Meanwhile, Chief Drew thanked the community, his detectives and the Chesterfield Police Department for their help in Jiraiya's safe return, and he said there is a celebration going on upstairs at Newport News Police Headquarters.

News 3 reporter Nana-Séntuo Bonsu spoke to the 3-month-old’s mother and grandmother as they walked out of the police department. They said they want to thank the community for all the help.

Jiraiya is Tonisha Martin's first grandson. She left the police department relieved Thursday night, but her day was filled with many different emotions.

"A little bit of everything: Good and bad," she said.

Finding the infant was the department's top priority. Chief Drew said they pulled every detective they have in the city to focus on this case.

As for why the AMBER Alert went out hours after Jiraiya went missing, he said it was because not all the criteria was met in order to push out the alert.

"The delay is because we had some investigation that we had to complete," he said.

Jiraiya was found in Chesterfield hours later.

“That beautiful... that beautiful 3-month-old little boy is safe," Chief Drew said before thanking the community for sending in tips. He said a lot of the phone calls the department received led to some of the leads police had, which he said were "vital."

The community's help also means the world to Jiraiya's family.

“I’m happy and grateful that my Jiraiya has returned safely," Martin said.

News 3 asked Chief Drew if Jiraiya will return to Newport News tonight. While the chief says he doesn't know, if Jiraiya does come by the department, he will come downstairs and give him a first bump.

Police are still trying to piece together why the suspect, whom the department can't name right now, had the baby and why she took him to Chesterfield.

Stay with News 3 for updates.