Alabama Father Arrested After 4 Sisters Who Were Reported Missing Are Found Safe in Georgia

Missing Sisters
The sisters, ranging in age from 12 to 2, had initially been reported missing by child welfare authorities.Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

The Alabama father of four girls who were reported missing has been arrested. His daughters, aged 2 to 12, were later found safe in Georgia.

The Alabama father of four sisters who were reported missing by child welfare officials was arrested Friday. The girls were later found safe in Georgia, authorities said.

A statewide emergency alert had been issued Thursday night for the sisters, who range in age from 2 to 12, by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Child welfare authorities had been granted temporary custody of the girls, but were not able to locate them, authorities said at the time.

Their father, Clifton Christopher Buchanan, 34, was taken into custody Friday morning in Etowah County and transferred to Talladega County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail on a charge of interfering with custody, the Talladega County Sheriff's Office said.

The sheriff announced Friday afternoon that the children had been found safe in Clayton County, and that children's services officers were on their way to Georgia to bring the girls home.

At a subsequent press conference, Capt. Mike Jones of the sheriff's office said the girls were found Friday about 11 a.m. in a car at a McDonald's in Clayton County, where they were eating with an unidentified adult. 

That person is awaiting questioning by sheriff's investigators, Jones said. "We're not sure what that person's role was," Jones said. The Alabama Department of Human Resources had received a court order Thursday granting temporary custody to the agency, but officials were unable to locate the sisters or Buchanan on Thursday, Jones said.

The department had begun investigating "the family situation" in October, and that led child welfare officials to seek custody of the children, Jones said. He could not comment further, he said, because of the ongoing investigation.

The girls' father, Jones said, refused to cooperate with authorities, leading to the statewide alert for the girls. Tips that came in following the alert's issuance helped officers locate the children in Georgia, Jones said.

Authorities believe Buchanan knew he was about to lose custody of his daughters and arranged for them to be taken to a different location, Jones said.

The missing girls' mother died two years ago, according to a GoFundMe site established by Andrew Ortega, the father of Carrie Buchanan and the children's maternal grandfather.

The sister were identified as: Aaliyah Grace Buchanan, 12; Isabella Jane Buchanan, 9; Lacey Nicole Buchanan, 6; and Gracelyn Hope Buchanan, 2. They had been living with their father in Sylacauga, a small city in Talladega County about 50 miles southeast of Birmingham.

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