Resiliency marks 10 months since DeKalb toddler’s kidnapping, safe return

It's been 10 months since Royalty Grisby was kidnapped while her mother was making a DoorDash delivery in a DeKalb County neighborhood. Her mother Elizabeth said she is still the same smiley baby.
Caption
It's been 10 months since Royalty Grisby was kidnapped while her mother was making a DoorDash delivery in a DeKalb County neighborhood. Her mother Elizabeth said she is still the same smiley baby.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

A car stolen, a baby gone, and the agonizing wait for the news that might never come. The kidnapping of 1-year-old Blaise Barnett, taken Nov. 10 from outside his Clarkston apartment, is every parent’s worst nightmare.

For Elizabeth Grisby, it was a lived reality. Her 1-year-old was taken during a car theft in March while Grisby was making a late-night food delivery in a DeKalb County neighborhood. Grisby waited 12 hours to be reunited with her daughter Royalty. Deonna Bray, Blaise’s mother, waited more than 36.

“I’m so glad that baby boy was found because, Lord, that was a long time,” Grisby said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week. “Thirty-six hours is a long time to just be missing your baby and not knowing. Twelve hours was death to me.”

ExploreAfter 36 hours, Clarkston 1-year-old found within a mile of home

It’s been 10 months since Grisby watched as someone drove away with her child still sleeping in the backseat. The single mother of four, who lost her serving job during the pandemic, was making DoorDash deliveries in the Redan area at night so she could stay home with her children during the day.

In that time, Royalty lost her father, came down with the coronavirus, and turned 2 on Sept. 11.

“So much has happened in her little short lifespan and she survived it all,” her mother said. “I’m just waiting to see what greatness is to come from her.”

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Royalty Grisby survived a kidnapping, lost her father and overcame the coronavirus before her second birthday Sept. 11.

Credit: Family photo

Royalty Grisby survived a kidnapping, lost her father and overcame the coronavirus before her second birthday Sept. 11.
Caption
Royalty Grisby survived a kidnapping, lost her father and overcame the coronavirus before her second birthday Sept. 11.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

Grisby can remember every moment that passed between Royalty’s kidnapping and their reunion the following day, after a passerby saw someone leave the baby on a Lithonia doorstep and heard her crying. DeKalb police arrested a 14-year-old boy on kidnapping and theft charges but have not identified any accomplices.

ExploreDeKalb child found safe after car theft, abduction; 14-year-old arrested

Grisby said the case against the teenager is still pending and he is under house arrest at his mother’s home in Conyers.

During the 12 hours she was missing, news about Royalty came in waves. First, police discovered Grisby’s SUV, and Royalty’s clothes were left inside. Then, police announced the arrest, but the child was still missing.

“Once they said they found the truck I was heartbroken, but once they said they arrested him and they still didn’t have her, I felt like everything was over,” she said. “I didn’t know if they were going to find her. I didn’t know anything. I was just lost.”

The good news came two hours later, when a DeKalb detective showed Grisby a photo of the found child and asked her mother to confirm it was Royalty.

“That’s my baby,” Grisby told the detective. “And we were gone.”

Explore‘A moment of joy’: DeKalb mom describes reunion with kidnapped 1-year-old girl
Caption
Elizabeth Grisby and daughter Royalty were reunited in March after an agonizing 12 hours.

Credit: TNS

Elizabeth Grisby and daughter Royalty were reunited in March after an agonizing 12 hours.
Caption
Elizabeth Grisby and daughter Royalty were reunited in March after an agonizing 12 hours.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Grisby has not made any nighttime deliveries since March. Inspired by her story, 611 people, many of them mothers, donated to a GoFundMe account to help pay for child care so she could seek a day job. It raised more than $28,000, enough for a grateful Grisby to hire a babysitter and then some. She recently took a job as a server at a hotel near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Royalty is growing up curious and talkative, she said. She contracted COVID-19 in August but has fully recovered. Too young to grieve the loss of a father she never met, the toddler seems unfazed by the trauma that marked the second year of her life.

“You wouldn’t even know anything happened because she’s still that happy, smiley baby,” Grisby said.

Her heart goes out to Bray, who is still waiting to learn who took Blaise and why. No suspects have been identified in the Clarkston kidnapping case, but police have released photos of items recovered from the family’s SUV.

“They are just taking these cars just to go joyriding, and they aren’t thinking,” Grisby said. “In taking these cars, you don’t know what else you’re taking.”

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