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Man arrested in connection with disappearance of young mother in Florida

Leila Cavett, 21, was last seen with her toddler in July at a Hollywood, Florida, gas station, and the little boy later was found wandering alone in a parking lot.

Federal agents arrested a man in Florida and charged him with kidnapping in connection to the disappearance of a young mother, last seen with her toddler at a gas station three weeks ago, officials said Monday.

Leila Cavett.FBI

Shannon Demar Ryan was taken into custody in Broward County and charged with one count of kidnapping, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Monday by FBI Special Agent Samuel Band.

Local police and FBI agents have been searching for Leila Cavett, 21, since she was last seen July 26 in Hollywood, Florida, with her 2-year-old son, Kamdyn, authorities said.

Hours later, the little boy was found wandering alone in an apartment complex in nearby Miramar, but there's been no trace of his mother, the FBI has said. Her unattended car was found in Hollywood days later.

In the criminal complaint against Ryan, the victim is referred only as "L.C." but publicly known details of Cavett's disappearance match allegations listed in Band's complaint.

Cavett's father, Curtis Cavett, told NBC South Florida that Ryan was arrested in connection with his daughter's disappearance.

Ryan has been charged with one count of kidnapping of "K.A.," according for the complaint.

Ryan used the victim's debit card for two purchases on July 26 at a Walmart near the gas station, where she was last seen, according to the court document.

Surveillance video and store receipts showed "Ryan purchasing Hefty Strong 39 Gallon Extra Large Trash Drawstring Bags and two boxes of Extra Strength Carpet Odor Eliminator," Band wrote.

Ryan returned to that same store in 15 minutes, where "video surveillance and receipts show that Ryan went back into the Walmart and purchased a roll of Advanced Strength Duct Tape," the FBI agent wrote.

When investigators found the missing woman's car, they staked it out before "Ryan approached L.C.'s truck with the keys in hand," according to Band.

"Law enforcement searched the truck and observed that the driver's side window was broken and the driver's side visor was bent out of its ordinary position," according to the complaint.

"Among other things, law enforcement recovered shovels with small droplets of a red substance on them," Band wrote.

The agent added that a search of the suspect's car "located a half-empty container of all-purpose cleaner with bleach, numerous black trash bags, and a white powdery substance under the front passenger seat."

Ryan made his first appearance before a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale on Monday and was held over at least until a bail hearing on Friday.

Ryan's court-appointed defense lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

The complaint made no mention of where the victim might be or whether she's alive. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Florida said prosecutors have "no position" on her whereabouts or status.

The young mother's "separation from her son is completely out of character," the FBI said in a statement last week.

Band appeared to reiterate that point in his complaint against Ryan on Monday, writing that, "Law enforcement interviewed numerous witnesses including her family members who indicated that L.C. would not leave her child alone with anyone" and that "law enforcement learned that L.C. was still breastfeeding."

"I just want to know the fact that my child is OK, and if she’s not, I have to deal with that," Curtis Cavett told NBC South Florida.

Cavett is about 5-foot-4, weighs about 120 pounds and has her son’s name, “Kamdyn,” tattooed on her right inner arm and a “Jesus fish” tattooed on her right wrist, according to the FBI.

Mohammed Syed contributed.