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

Credit: DeKalb County Police Department

Credit: DeKalb County Police Department

Atlantans weary of recent bad news breathed a sigh of relief Thursday: a 1-year-old girl abducted when her mother’s car was stolen in DeKalb County was found safe, more than 12 hours after she was kidnapped.

Royalty Grisby was located when a passerby heard a baby crying on the porch of a home on Stoneleigh Hill Road in Lithonia, DeKalb police Chief Mirtha Ramos said Thursday afternoon during a news conference at police headquarters.

The passerby checked on the baby and, after realizing that she matched Royalty’s description, immediately called 911, Ramos said. The baby girl was reunited with her mother, Elizabeth Grisby, at the location where she was found before being taken to the hospital as a precaution. The child appeared to be healthy, according to Ramos.

Malachi Richardson, the teenage suspect in the case, was located off Bolton Road in Atlanta earlier in the afternoon and taken into custody, police announced. At that point, Royalty was still missing, so police believe she was left on the porch by someone other than Richardson.

“Thank you to all who shared,” Ramos said in a news release. “One-year-old Royalty Grisby has been located safe and returned to her mother!”

Elizabeth Grisby was delivering food in the 1200 block of Harvest Dale Circle early Thursday morning when her Nissan SUV, its engine left running, was stolen with her daughter still inside, according to police. Ramos said she believes Richardson called in the food order as a setup and intended to rob the delivery driver.

A Levi’s Call, Georgia’s Amber Alert system, was issued for the child shortly before 7 a.m., five hours after Grisby reported the kidnapping. She said she heard a car door slam and turned around to see her maroon Nissan Armada rolling down the street.

She ran after the vehicle for as long as she could.

“I just want my baby home,” Grisby told reporters through tears during an earlier news conference. “That’s it. I just want her. You can take her to the hospital. You can take her anywhere. You can take her to a store. Just bring her home.”

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

She lives in the area and often delivers for DoorDash at night while Royalty is asleep. In a statement, the company called the kidnapping “absolutely heinous” and said it worked with the FBI and local law enforcement.

“I had my keys in my pocket, and the only reason I didn’t lock the door was because I was in a residential neighborhood, a nice neighborhood,” the mother said. “I didn’t think anything like that would happen.”

The Nissan’s tags were changed when police found it abandoned in a neighborhood off Young Road about 9 a.m. But there was no sign of Royalty, so the search continued into the afternoon.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Richardson lives in the area and was believed to be connected to both crime scenes, Ramos said. He was charged with kidnapping and theft by taking. Police also spoke with Richardson’s mother Thursday afternoon.

Multiple local, state and federal agencies joined in the effort to assist DeKalb police as they scoured the county.

The possibility of a second suspect could not be ruled out after Royalty was found about 25 miles from the area where Richardson was captured less than an hour earlier.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

The investigation is ongoing and police are asking anyone with additional information to contact them. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.