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July 31, 2014

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Hunt for autistic Florida boy missing for a month ends with arrests in Henderson

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Henderson Police Department

Karl Menz, 50, left, and Virginia Lynch, 49.

Updated Friday, April 4, 2014 | 9:56 a.m.

Emmanuel Menz

Emmanuel Menz

A monthlong search for an autistic 3-year-old Florida boy who allegedly was kidnapped by his parents ended today in Henderson.

Authorities in Crestview, Fla., said Emmanuel Menz was recovered unharmed. His parents, 49-year-old Virginia Lynch and 50-year-old Karl Menz, were arrested and will face charges in Florida of kidnapping a minor by interference with custody.

"'Little Manny' is in good health," Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor said in a news conference.

The couple, who late last year had lost custody of the child, are accused of taking the boy March 6 during a supervised visit at a Burger King restaurant in Crestview. An official with the Florida Department of Children and Families supervising the visit had left momentarily to use the restaurant’s bathroom, according to published reports. When the supervisor returned, the boy and his parents were gone.

The whereabouts of the three had been unknown since then.

News of the boy's disappearance and the search for him has dominated the headlines in northwest Florida, where Manny lived with foster parents. A Facebook page, "Bring Manny Home," provided updates during the search and had nearly 4,000 likes on it.

Based on information provided by the FBI, officers responded to the area of Boulder Highway and Lake Mead Parkway and located the suspects about 1 p.m., according to Henderson Police.

They were found in the white U-Haul van with its distinctive markings removed, police said. Both suspects surrendered without incident, and the boy was found unharmed in the back of the van, police said.

The boy, who is nonverbal, was placed with Clark County Child Protective Service, officials said.

Taylor said Manny would return to Florida – "we're working on getting him back here," Taylor said – while the boy's parents would remain in Nevada, awaiting extradition back to the Sunshine State.

They were booked at the Henderson Detention Center on a count of possession of stolen vehicle and an outstanding warrant from another jurisdiction, police said.

Other agencies involved in the hunt for the boy included the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI, Families First, Las Vegas Metro Police, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children.

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