Livingston County Sheriff Steve Cox says Sandy Hatte is charged with felony child abduction.
She is being held in the Daviess/Dekalb County Regional Jail under $25,000 bond.
Cox says officials at a school district in his county came forward with concerns over a recent school enrollment.
In a followup release, Cox said Hatte was not the mother of the youngster, but is alleged to have portrayed herself as the mother.
“She is related to the victim and the father but she is not a person that had legal rights to the child,” Cox said.
Cox also sought to clarify incorrect information published elsewhere. He would not say which school district was involved, in an effort to protect the identity of the child.
“This happened in one of the school districts in Livingston County,” he said.
“Too many people are jumping to conclusion that it was in the Chillicothe School districts. We have 3 public school districts here, one private school, and Livingston County residents that actually attend school in Carroll and Linn Counties. I/we are not disclosing the school location to protect the juvenile victim and true family.”
Detective Eric Menconi and Captain Sindy Fitzpatrick investigated the case, conducting background investigations and eventually finding the child’s biological father in the southern United States. Officials say the investigation led them to believe the juvenile was abducted about 13 years ago in Florida when the victim was a small child.
Authorities took custody of the child from the school on September 18 and arrested Hatte.
Cox says the woman and child were not in Livingston County for much more than 30 days. He says the evidence strongly suggests the victim and suspect had resided in “other cities, counties, and/or states” but says a definitive time line of the victim’s life and exact locations is not available at this time.
Cox says the family and victim have left his jurisdiction.
Cox offered public thanks to Richard Primm, who provided a room and breakfast for the family’s reunification at the Days Inn of Chillicothe. Cox also thanked Kevin Murry, who offered a reunion dinner at the Golden Corral restaurant.