When 6-year-old Talia Jones vanished from San Pedro, California on June 17th, 2019, no one could have guessed that the search for her would lead investigators across the country. After 14 long months, that search ended when Talia was recovered safely, over 2,500 miles from where she went missing, thanks to a tip from a Live PD viewer.
Police say that last summer Talia was abducted by her mother, Melinda Davis, who does not have legal custody of Talia, resulting in a warrant for felony child stealing being issued for Davis. Investigators say Talia has a life-threatening medical condition and finding her was critical because it was unlikely that she was receiving necessary medical care.
As part of the partnership between the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the A&E network show Live PD, Talia’s case was featured on Live PD’s weekly missing child segment, which aired on May 16, 2020. That’s when one Live PD viewer immediately recognized Talia and Melinda, and contacted the NCMEC call center with important information no one expected.
The caller revealed that Talia and her mother were spotted in Colorado and had plans to travel to upstate New York. It seemed unlikely at first; cops say they hadn’t suspected that Talia’s mother would ever leave, or have the means to leave, California. But the Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force began working with this new information right away, reaching out to their partners on the other side of the country, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in the Western District of New York.
For weeks, they worked on developing that tip and it eventually led investigators to a residence in Buffalo, New York, where they say Melinda had been hiding out with Talia.
On August 31, 2020, Talia Jones was found safe. She was placed with Erie County Department of Child Services and Melinda Davis was arrested on the outstanding warrant.
“This is an awesome example of the power of television and how one alert person made a difference,” said Angeline Hartmann, Director of Communications at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “We urge everyone to pay attention to the faces of missing kids. It just takes one person to bring home a missing child.”
Since 2017, the National Center featured more than 100 missing kids on Live PD. Over half of those children were recovered before the show was cancelled in June 2020. The partnership with the A&E network continues, highlighting NCMEC’s missing child segments on its show Live Rescue, now in its third season. In addition, public service announcements featuring missing kids run throughout A&E’s programming, in the hopes that someone recognizes a missing child and, like in Talia’s case, makes the call that brings them home.
You can find missing children in your community and across the country by going to https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/search and typing in your city and state information. If you have a tip about a missing child, be sure to call NCMEC’s call center at 1-800-THE-LOST, that’s 1-800-843-5678.