Brighton Davis joined the crowd of women surrounding the car. “What’s going on?”
A distraught woman replied, “There’s a baby in that car! We can’t get the doors or windows open. I’m afraid it might die in this awful heat!”
Brighton sprinted to his car, parked one row over, and opened the trunk. He drew out a hammer and sprinted back to the baby’s car.
“Stand back! I’m going to break the window.” With that, he smashed the front window on the passenger side and reached back through the broken window to unlock the rear door.
The baby’s eyes were closed and beads of sweat covered its forehead and cheeks. Brighton unbuckled the belt holding the child in the car seat and pulled the baby out of of the car.
Brighton, holding the baby tight against his chest, turned and ran toward his car.
A chorus of voices followed him. “What are you doing?”
“Where are you going?”
“I’m taking him to the hospital. There’s no time to waste. The child needs medical care.” With that explanation, Brighton jumped in the car, still holding the baby close to him, started the engine, and sped away.
Three of the women had the presence of mind to try to take photos of the car’s license plate. Two of them also got photos of Brighton’s back as he rushed toward the car. The plate numbers did no good, though. They belonged to a blue 2017 Kia Soul, registered to a woman in hospice care in Charlotte, North Carolina; not to the orange 2019 Ford Mustang that left with the child.
The crowd of irate women who had been ready to bludgeon the child’s mother when they saw the baby in the hot car softened as the reality of the baby’s abduction sank in.
Police checked every hospital in the area. None of them had treated a baby for heat-related illness that day. The child’s mother, a recent widow who had left the baby in the car, told the police nothing of consequence in locating the child.
“I am driving to visit my parents in Atlanta,” she sobbed as she explained to the police what she had been doing at the mall. “I stopped to use the bathroom. I was gone for no more than fifteen minutes.”
Her story checked out. She left her home in Portland, Maine the day before and spent the previous night in a motel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The only thing about her story that seemed slightly odd was her decision to get off I-81 and drive down I-581 to Valley View Mall. But her explanation was believable: “I knew how to get there because I’ve been to this mall before when I visited friends who used to live in Roanoke. I knew this place has good bathrooms.”
Brighton Davis seemed an unlikely opportunistic kidnapper. He was unmarried, forty-three years old, and traveled extensively for his job as an airport architect, sometimes spending months at a time in places like Hong Kong and London and Zagreb. He had no time for a baby. But, then, he apparently had time to steal an orange 2019 Ford Mustang; it was reported stolen from a dealership in Lynchburg, Virginia only two days earlier. And apparently he had time to steal the plates off a blue 2017 Kia Soul located three hours away.
Newspaper accounts of the abduction said the mother was suffering through a second trauma with the child’s kidnapping. Her husband had been killed just three months earlier in a random drive-by shooting in Washington, DC, where he had been visiting with Congressional representatives on behalf of his employer, the Portland International Jetport.
There’s something fishy about this story. Something’s just not quite right. Where is the baby?