By The Associated Press
JACKSON — A high school teacher from Alabama stands accused of kidnapping a 6-year-old kindergarten student from school in Mississippi, sending a frightening text message to the child’s mother and paying to keep her overnight in a hotel before she was released unharmed, authorities and reports said Thursday.
A federal magistrate in Jackson denied bond Thursday to 54-year-old Jesse Mae Pollard, of Northport, Ala., near Tuscaloosa, U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis said in a news release. She has been charged with kidnapping and is to be held until a federal grand jury hears her case, he said in the statement.
Pollard is a veteran teacher at West Kemper High School, The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/153Tbm7) reported. The high school is about an 85-mile drive from Northport but less than 20 miles from East Kemper Elementary School in Scooba, Miss., where authorities say a woman asked for the child by name and left with her about noon on Tuesday.
About four hours later, the girl’s mother got a text message that said, “don’t call the police I will call you later if you call the police u wont see her again,” according to a sworn statement by FBI agent Bradley Hentschel.
Hentschel’s affidavit did not give a motive, but said Pollard had had a dispute with the child’s mother.
The Kemper County school district has strict check-out procedures and is investigating whether those broke down, schools Superintendent Jackie Pollack said Thursday. Pollack said the investigation began as soon as district administrators learned that the child was missing.
The girl’s family discovered she was missing when she did not get off her school bus Tuesday afternoon.
Hentschel said in the statement that the girl described three women, giving first names for two: Jocelyn, who picked her up at school, Jesse Mae, who used a credit card to rent a hotel room, and a woman in a pink shirt who spent Tuesday night in the room with her. Subsequently, the child was released unharmed, The Clarion Ledger reported.
Only Pollard had been arrested as of late Thursday, authorities said.
The third woman drove the girl around on Wednesday, then told her “to get out of the car in the rain and to wait for her mother to pick her up,” Hentschel said. She was left in Enterprise, Miss., the statement from Davis said.
The child walked to a nearby house where occupants recognized her from Amber Alert news reports and called 911, officials told the newspaper.
Hentschel said surveillance video showed Pollard and the child at a Best Western Hotel in Bessemer, Ala., about 45 miles north-north-east of Northport, where Pollard used a credit card to pay for a room.
The hotel is near the store from which the phone used to text the child’s mother and T-Mobile service for it had been bought on April 30, he said. A search of a car at Pollard’s home in Northport turned up a key to the hotel, a hotel receipt and a receipt for the phone, according to the affidavit.