MEMPHIS, Tenn (WATE) – Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirms Rebecca Lewis was found safe in Memphis.
The man accused of abducting her, West Wild Hogs, 31, was taken into custody, according to TBI. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the state and federal attorney’s office are still working to determine if they will charge Hogs in state or federal court
“We will continue to work through the investigation and determine where and how Mr. Hogs will be prosecuted, but he’s in the pen now,” said Judd. “The baby is safe. The baby is in the arms of the Memphis Police Department.”
Sheriff Judd said a security guard in Memphis spotted Hogs’ car in the parking lot of Baptist East Hospital in Memphis and reported him to Memphis Police Department. He said Rebecca will be taken home to Florida.
“It was like the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Now the next world is just getting her back in my arms, so y’all go get her and bring her back,” said Rebecca’s father during a press conference. Rebecca’s mother said she’s glad that her daughter is safe and Hogs did “the right thing.”
Hogs, who legally changed his name from Matthew Clark Pybus, is a long-time family friend. He lived with the family when Rebecca was an infant. but Sheriff Judd said he was asked to leave the family’s home over two years ago after pulling a gun on the family. He said Hogs suffers from depression and bipolar disorder.
“I’m so numb. I went from anger to love, back to hate,” said Rebecca’s grandmother, Oma Mae Lewis, sobbing. “Thank all of you guys for being here with us, giving us our privacy when we needed it, giving us y’all’s attention when we needed it and putting us out there for us. Without you guys we probably wouldn’t be here.”
Sheriff Judd said Hogs left with his wife from Seale, Alabama a week ago telling her he had a surprise for her. He said Hogs wouldn’t tell his wife what the surprise was.
The couple traveled north on Interstate 75 through Tennessee to Maryland where the couple rested at a welcome center in Maryland, according to Sheriff Judd. From there, he said they took Interstate 95 South to Charlotte, then back to Tennessee on Interstate 75 and then South into Georgia.
“The wife said at about Dalton, Georgia ‘Hey, I’ve had enough of this. I’ve been riding around with you and it is now Thursday since last Monday about this surprise that you won’t tell me anything about,'” said Sheriff Judd. He said the wife got out of the car and called family to pick her up. Sheriff Judd said Hogs proceeded to drive to his grandmother’s house in Polk City, Florida.
Hogs stayed with his grandmother Thursday in Polk City and told her he had a job interview on Monday. Sheriff Judd said Hogs’ grandmother is friends with Oma Mae Lewis and she had a discussion with Hogs about the Lewis family.
At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sheriff Judd said the grandmother left for work and Hogs picked Rebecca Lewis up on Highway 98 North in Polk County and they went to a McDonald’s for breakfast.
The 16-year-old sister of Rebecca said she saw her sister sleeping at 9:00 a.m. Saturday at Lazy Dazy Retreat/Mobile Home in Polk County. She said she fell back asleep and when she woke up at 9:45 a.m. the little girl was gone.
The girl’s parents and the sheriff’s office searched the area around Rebecca’s home. After an AMBER Alert was issued, authorities saw Hogs and Rebecca at a gas station in Forsythe, Georgia, just off of I-75 around 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The man and girl were later spotted in the area of Cove Lake State Park in Campbell County. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said sometime between 10 to 11 p.m. Sunday night a park ranger reported seeing a man and child matching Hogs and Rebecca’s description at the park.
At around 2:30 a.m. Monday, surveillance video captured Lewis and Hogs at Daily’s convenience store in Nashville. The Amber Alert was expanded state-wide in Tennessee and Hogs was taken into custody Monday afternoon in Memphis.
Sheriff Judd said the incident is still under investigation. He said Rebecca seems to be safe, but they have ordered a mental and psychological screening for her.
Rebecca’s father said he won’t celebrate until his daughter is in his arms. “This has been a very long, hard road,” agreed Rebecca’s mother.