Jacksonville truck driver accused of kidnapping 2 Texas children

Neighbors say suspect met children when they lived in Jacksonville

WINSLOW, Ariz. – A truck driver from Jacksonville accused of kidnapping two children in Texas was arrested in northern Arizona on Saturday and the boy and girl are both safe, according to authorities.

Winslow police said Marshall Pendergrass, 47, was taken into custody Saturday and is facing federal charges. It was unclear Sunday if he has a lawyer.

Winslow authorities were contacted by police in Belton, Texas, about a 14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother who were reported missing Friday.

Winslow police say the two were found in the sleeper cab of semitruck parked 75 miles east of Flagstaff.

Winslow police said Pendergrass wasn't related to the children, but his neighbors in Jacksonville's Westside said they used to live here before their mother moved them to Texas.

"(His daughter) was friends with the little girl kidnapped and their family was friends with him," a woman who did not want to be identified told News4Jax. "That’s how she was even around him. I have never associated with him at all. I just know him as a neighbor."

Police said the children were held against their will, but they were unharmed. They were turned over to the Arizona Department of Child Services pending their return to their mother.

Pendergrass was jailed pending federal charges because the children were taken across state lines.

About the Authors: