PALATKA, Fla. - Monday night, a 3-year-old South Florida girl is with her father more than a year after police said she was kidnapped by her mother.
Lilly Baumann was found safe in the Palatka area after she was featured on a CNN show Sunday night.
On May 13, 2014, South Florida resident Robert Baumann went to pick up his daughter, Lilly, from the home of her mother, Megan Everett. When he got there, Everett and Lilly were nowhere to be found.
Lilly Abigail Baumann, who had been reported kidnapped in Sunrise, Florida, in May 2014, was featured on the John Walsh show, "The Hunt." She was believed to be with her mother, 23-year-old Megan Elizabeth Everett.
On May 13, 2014, Everett failed to return Lilly to the girl's father as directed in their custody agreement. Deputies said Everett moved out of her previous residence, where she was living with her boyfriend Carlos Lesters, taking Lilly with her.
Everett did leave a note behind for Lesters, trying to explain why she was leaving.
"Dear C, if I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn't be dong what's right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you, but I had to leave. I know she will be safer and happier with my family and I. Love, Meg and Lilly."
Deputies said Everett avoided law enforcement for more than a year until a Putnam County landlady watched "The Hunt" Sunday night and recognized the mother and daughter as tenants of her rental property at 111 Motes Lane, south of Palatka. The two had been staying in the home only three days before the show aired, police said.
The woman notified CNN of her suspicions, and the network reported the information to the FBI.
"When I first heard that it's possible that they found her I was just in shock. I didn't really know what to say. I thought it was so surreal you know. John put the show on last night and I can't imagine that in less than 24 hours they found her after a year and a half of searching for her," Robert Baumann said.
Agents from the Daytona Beach FBI office called the Putnam County Sheriff's Office and requested that deputies check the residence while the agents traveled to Putnam County.
A team of deputies surrounded the house and saw the mother and daughter inside.
Lilly was recovered unharmed and is staying with a victim's advocate at the Sheriff's Office until her father arrives from Sunrise on Monday afternoon.
Detective Louis Fernandez of the Sunrise Police Department in Florida believes that someone must have helped Everett kidnap Lilly.
"There's a very high likelihood that she had assistance, both financially and logistically, to get out of this area," Fernandez said.
Robert Baumann now has 100 percent custody of Lilly and said that he has nothing to say to Megan Everett but wanted to speak to the person who called authorities.
"Thank you, you don't know how much it means to me and my family," Robert Baumann said.
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