When Melba Williams spotted a minivan matching the description of a vehicle stolen Tuesday morning with a 2-year-old girl inside, she called her son for guidance. Fortunately, he didn’t answer.
“He would’ve told me to mind my own business,” said the 59-year-old great-grandmother, who discovered Myrai Robinson alone and crying around 1 p.m. in the 2010 Dodge Caravan abandoned at Lithonia High School. “My kids tell me I’m too nosy.”
About 10 minutes earlier, Williams had heard the Levi’s Call that had gone out for Myrai, who was left unattended by a caretaker around 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s fitness center.
Rhonda Rivers, 44, allegedly made things easy for the suspect, leaving the keys in the ignition. After five or so minutes inside the fitness center, she returned to find her vehicle and Myrai missing.
Rivers, arrested Tuesday afternoon, faces multiple charges, including reckless conduct, DeKalb County police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said.
Investigators are still trying to identify the suspected abductor, though a relative of Myrai’s told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the family doesn’t think the little girl was targeted.
“It doesn’t seem like it was the result of any sort of retribution,” said Ricky Walker, the uncle of Myrai’s mother, Charity Gibson. “It seems to be one of those unfortunate things.”
New Birth supplied surveillance video to police but, according to Walker, the glare of the sun made it difficult to identify the suspect. Police are also reviewing footage from Lithonia High.
Walker said Myrai did not appear to have been harmed by her abductor. But she was scared.
“She was standing up in the front seat crying,” said Williams, who called 911 and waited with Myrai until police arrived. “I told her, ‘Mama’s coming, it’ll be OK.’ “
Williams, who has seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, said she was nervous at first but, “I just kept thinking, ‘It could’ve been one of mine.’ “
Myrai’s family said the good Samaritan was an answer to fervent prayer.
“[Williams] was an angel,” said Walker, pastor of City of Deliverance in Lithonia. “This was a great, great ending to what could’ve been a tragedy.”
DeKalb County has been lax in its oversight of spending by elected commissioners, and some officials frequently paid for items on their government debit cards without submitting required receipts, according to an audit released Thursday.
See Flashback Fotos on myajc.com for only 99 cents. Visit the MyAJC archives for a historic look at Atlanta from Midtown in the 70s to Auburn Avenue and even life here before traffic jams on the interstates.