HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) – In less than 24 hours, three missing Houston County children wound up in McAlester, Okla., seven hours away from their aunt's home near Grapeland.
"It's been a roller coaster, but we've been thrilled that it didn't take as long as some of these cases take and we're just thrilled to have them on the way back home," said Sylvia Rader, aunt who looks after the children.
Authorities arrested Jamie Hallmark, 21, and her mother, Amanda Bailey for allegedly kidnapping Hallmark's children Jestine, age 6, Jemeni, age 5, and Jayden, age 2 early Sunday morning. CPS removed the kids from their mother's custody following a felony drug charge last month.
"We've been on pins and needles on the phone constantly between law enforcement and family members just trying to keep our head up and keep ourselves informed of what was going on with the kiddos," said Rader.
The children stay at their aunt's home just outside of Grapeland. "These kids are just looking forward to getting back to the cabin," said Rader. "Jessi, the little girl, has already asked, 'when are we going to back to the cabin?' So, they're just looking forward to getting back."
Rader said Jestine's long, blond hair was chopped short and dyed black. Jemeni now has a mohawk. She said it was a silent, long car ride back home.
"They're very quiet," said Rader. "They're fine health wise, but they're just very quiet. They're not talkative at all."
The family said they haven't spoken to Hallmark or Bailey and not sure if they will in the near future. "I'm not sure what I want to do there yet," said Rader.
A CPS spokesperson said Hallmark and Bailey are not to have any contact with the children. We also want to point out, the Houston Co. Sheriff's Department became members of the regional amber alert on Sunday night to help track down the children.