Update (Jan. 13, 2017)– John Rader is not facing any charges in connection with this case and police are no longer searching for him. Read more here.
PRINCE’S LAKES, Ind.— Investigators searching for the father at the center of Monday night’s Amber Alert in Johnson County say the father may have had plans to take his children to Texas.
Prince’s Lakes Police Chief Greg Southers says investigators received tips that John Rader, 40, planned to abduct his 6 and 10-year old sons and travel to Texas because extradition laws there would have made it easier for him to avoid authorities in Indiana.
The boys’ mother, Christina Williams may have planned to go along with the plan, according to Southers.
Rader is accused of kidnapping his two sons Monday night from the Prince’s Lakes home where the boys lived with their grandparents, Rader’s parents. The boys lived with their grandparents because of Rader’s and William’s history with illegal drug use. The grandparents were in the process of gaining custody of the two boys when the abduction occurred.
Police say Rader lured the two boys to a car he allegedly stole from his brother’s girlfriend and drove off with them.
“There was definitely a fear that this wasn’t going to turn out good,” Chief Southers said. “John is a convicted felon. He has a very very bad drug habit, and he’s unstable sometimes.”
After the boys went missing, police tracked Rader’s cell phone to the Brown County home of Kyle Lawson, 35, Bean Blossom. Lawson is a friend who had allowed Christina Williams to stay with him to avoid police, according to Southers.
“She’s been hiding out for the last three to four months,” Southers said. “Because she had had more warrants out issued for her arrest.”
It’s unclear if Rader and Williams planned to continue traveling to Texas after reuniting with the children at Lawson’s home. But Southers says Williams gave her sons their Christmas presents at Lawson’s home after Rader arrived with them. The two boys opened their presents at the Lawson home while their grandparents were providing police with information to issue Monday night’s Amber Alert.
Once the statewide Amber Alert was issued and news outlets began broadcasting the information, Rader apparently abandoned his plan to travel to Texas.
“I think John got scared, once the Amber Alert came out, and he fled,” Southers said.
By the time Brown County Sheriffs Deputies arrived at Lawson’s home, Rader was gone, leaving the boys and their mother behind. Lawson greeted Deputies at his door.
“Kyle misinformed them, did not tell them the truth that the boys were there,” Southers said.
At some point, Southers says Lawson called two friends to come over, pick up the children and take them back to their grandparents home. The two women were not aware the children had been reported missing, Southers said.
Deputies, who were still watching the Lawson house, saw the women arrive at the home. The Deputies approached the house again and found the children in the back of a car. Southers said they boy’s 16-year old half brother was also in the car, but he was not included in the Amber Alert. The 16-year old boy lives with Christina Williams’ parents, Southers said.
The younger boys were transported back to Prince’s Lakes and reunited with their grandparents.
Despite all the activity surrounding them Monday night, Chief Southers was encouraged to see the boys seemed largely unaffected by what was happening.
“They really weren’t scared or nervous or upset,” Southers said. “They’re kind of weary of things. A lot of new faces and people talking to them, but they acted like nothing had taken place. I tried to talk to them a little bit last night, and they had their new toys with them and they seemed relaxed.”
Brown County Deputies arrested Kyle Lawson on preliminary charges of Obstructing Justice and False Informing. They also arrested Christina Williams on an outstanding warrant related to Methamphetamine.
The 2007 white Ford 500 Rader allegedly stole was located in Columbus late Monday night. Detectives towed it away as evidence and were performing DNA swabs on the car’s interior.
Rader was last spotted at another location in Columbus Monday night. Police confirmed he stopped at a convenience store there, but he was nowhere to be found. Chief Southers doesn’t think Rader will make it far, and is urging the man to turn himself in.
“He has no finances,” Southers said. “So my thought pattern is that he’s probably just going to lay low and then pop up some time. That’s his usual M.O., he lays low for a while and then turns back up.”
Southers noted that illegal drug use has been on a steady increase in the Prince’s Lakes area, and the fight to reverse the trend has become a daily battle for his department.
“It’s unfortunate that these children here have fallen into that deep dark hole of drug activity,” Southers continued. “And they’re a victim of it.”
Princes Lakes Police Department is now handling the search for Rader and investigation into the alleged kidnapping. The FBI, U.S. Marshals, Indiana State Police and departments across surrounding counties are providing assistance. Anyone who sees John Rader or knows where he is can contact Prince’s Lakes Police at (317) 933-2333. You can also call your local police department so they can relay the information to Prince’s Lakes.