FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — UPDATE: The missing girls were found safe Thursday evening. Read more here.
Fairview Park police and Cleveland police are looking for two missing girls and their mother who allegedly violated a court order to turn her children over to Child Family Services on Monday. Then, on Wednesday, Fairview Park police say the mother, 23-year-old Caryann Sewell, left her children in her car for approximately an hour, gave police a fake ID and then slammed into a police cruiser before leading officers on a brief chase.
Sewell is about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs around 170 pounds. On Thursday afternoon, Cleveland police requested the public's help in locating the two missing girls, aged 2 and 4.
According to Cleveland police, Sewell was ordered by the court to turn her two girls over to the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services. However, on Monday, police said Sewell took the girls from daycare in violation of the court order. A Euclid police officer came into contact with Sewell, who allegedly told the officer that the girls were "out of town" before abruptly ending the conversation, according to a police report.
Two days later, on Wednesday, Fairview Park police officers were called to a nursing home near city hall in reference to two children who had been in a car for an extended period of time. Authorities said they located the driver, later identified to be Sewell, but she gave them a fake identification card. Authorities also believe she used the fake identity when applying for a job at the nursing home, which she had previously been fired from at a different location.
Suspecting that the woman’s driver’s license was not Sewell’s, police used a fingerprint reader in hopes of learning her true identity. While confirming her identity and that he had five active warrants for her arrest, police said Sewell hopped back into her vehicle before slamming into a police cruiser.
Sewell then crossed a landscaping median in the parking lot, drove over the sidewalk and then drove through a neighbor’s yard before speeding away. Police said the children were still in the vehicle. Authorities later learned that Sewell also allegedly had stolen license plates on her vehicle.
“She put her children in harm’s way. She put our officers in harm’s way. She put the motoring public in harm’s way. The damage to our cruiser was minimal but the fact is that her recklessness to get away from us did put a lot of people at risk,” said Lt. Paul Shepherd. “She’s a danger by the way she drove. The fact that she had little regard for the motoring public. She had little regard for the children in her car and herself so there are some concerns. We want to make sure everyone involved is safe.”
The responding officers briefly chased Sewell’s vehicle, but Lt. Shepherd said he quickly terminated the pursuit because of the potential safety risk to Sewell, her children and the general public. Sewell was driving at speeds eclipsing 60 mph in a 25 mph zone when the pursuit was terminated, Lt. Shepherd said. Her vehicle was later found abandoned.
“The risk outweighed the rewards,” Lt. Shepherd said. “She is desperate in the way she fled. We just would rather her call us and turn herself in. Or, whoever knows what she’s at, let us know so we can take her into custody and sort this all out. We don’t want anybody hurt.”