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Woman faces jail after pleading guilty to kidnapping infant twins in Ohio

“This community watched in horror as Nalah Jackson preyed on two vulnerable babies," the U.S. attorney said.
Nalah T Jackson Kidnapping Case
Nalah T. Jackson at court in Columbus, Ohio, on April 18.Barbara J. Perenic / USA Today Network via Imagn

An Ohio woman is facing 20 years in prison after she admitted to kidnapping twin babies by driving away in their mother’s car, before abandoning them both in different parts of the state.

Nalah T. Jackson, 25, from Columbus, pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnapping for stealing a black Honda Accord that had been left running while the twin boys — Kason and Ky'air Thomas, then just five months — were buckled up in the back seat in 2022.

Ky'air died from sudden infant death syndrome one month after being found, in an unrelated incident related to being left in a “unsafe sleep environment,” on an adult bed with excess bedding and pillows, a coroner’s report said.

The case sparked a huge police operation across Ohio and five neighboring states, with the FBI and Ohio State Highway Patrol assisting.

“This community watched in horror as Nalah Jackson preyed on two vulnerable babies. Today, she admitted her crime and agreed to spend 20 years in prison for her actions,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker said in a statement on Wednesday.

At about 10 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2022, Jackson walked out of a pizza restaurant in Columbus and took the car as the boys’ mother was in the same restaurant picking up a takeaway order.

Jackson drove to several locations across western Ohio for the next few hours, the U.S. attorney’s office said, before she arrived at Dayton International Airport close to 3 a.m. the next morning.

Kason and Ky'air Thomas.
Kason and Ky'air Thomas.Columbus Division of Police

She went inside the airport, then appeared to forget where she’d left the car, attempted to hire an Uber to try to find it, before eventually returning and driving off at high speed toward Indianapolis with just one of the babies in the car, prosecutors said.

She had left Ky'air in the parking lot, still in his car seat, where he was found by a passerby between two cars at about 4 a.m., the U.S. attorney’s statement said.

Jackson arrived in Indianapolis at 8 a.m. and parked outside a Papa John’s in the city’s university district, where she abandoned the car with baby Kason inside. While the family and police searched for clues, Kason remained strapped in the back seat of the car for two and a half days.

It was only thanks to the work of two local women that Jackson was apprehended.

On Dec. 22, after the car and baby were abandoned, Shyann Belmar, from Indianapolis, saw Jackson selling stolen goods outside a gas station. She gave Jackson a ride to a local shopping plaza and gave her her cellphone number.

Belmar, last year, told NBC affiliate WCMH of Columbus that she saw social media posts about the case and recognized Jackson as the main suspect. Along with her cousin, Mecka Curry, she sought to confirm this was the alleged kidnapper and find the then still-missing baby.

They traced Jackson to a residence via a phone number she had used to call one of the pair, then drove her to various stores in the hope she would steal something and they could call the police, Belmar said.

After this didn’t work, Curry was able to tell police the location of their car — with Jackson inside — by pretending to phone her boyfriend, giving details of where they were, according to the U.S. attorney’s office statement.

The police arrived and arrested Jackson, who provided a false name, letting the two women go without interviewing them.

Undaunted, the two women carried on their attempts to find the missing baby. They found a bus timetable that Jackson had left in the back seat of their car, which led them to search along a bus route near the university.

At first they found nothing, and worsening conditions due to an oncoming snowstorm convinced them to head home. However, they decided to get some food first, and when pulling into a local pizza restaurant they noticed a black Honda Accord parked outside the nearby Papa John’s.

The driver’s door was open, and in the back seat was baby Kason.

“Due to an overwhelming foul smell coming from the car, and the silence of the baby, one of the women screamed, assuming the baby was deceased,” the attorney said.

“Upon hearing the scream, the baby alerted and began crying. One of the women removed the baby from his car seat and began comforting him.”

The boy was taken to a local hospital and treated for dehydration, heart abnormalities and extreme diaper rash.

Belmar and Curry received gift cards for their children from the Orange Hearts for Makenzi Foundation, a nonprofit that provides mentorship and funding for young entrepreneurs of color, named after Columbus teen who died in 2021.