ORLANDO, Fla. - A 9-year-old Pennsylvania girl has been reunited with her father near Disney World in a bizarre case police say involved an abduction hoax by her mother. A police spokesman says Julia Rakoczy started crying when her father, Anthony, arrived Thursday afternoon at the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Florida.
Department spokesman Jim Solomons says Julia is "very concerned" for her mother, Bonnie Sweeten, after seeing her arrested at their hotel in Disney World.
Sweeten, a mother of three from suburban Philadelphia, is charged with filing a false report and identity theft. Police say she lied about being abducted by two men who had rear-ended her car.
They say they aren't sure about her motive.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A woman said Thursday she gave her driver's license to a former co-worker who told her she needed it to fix office paperwork, and had no knowledge that the ex-colleague planned to fake her abduction and fly with her daughter to Florida.
Jillian Jenkinson said on CBS' "The Early Show" that Bonnie Sweeten's request to use her ID to fix a discrepancy on Jenkinson's 401(k) "seemed innocent."
Sweeten and her 9-year-old daughter, Julia Rakoczy, were taken into custody Wednesday night at an Orlando hotel, said Bucks County, Pa., District Attorney Michelle Henry.
Jenkinson said she had worked with Sweeten for nine years, but didn't specify where they had worked together. She described Sweeten as a good mother who was always on top of things.
"I think whatever's going on in her life is a way bigger issue than my ID," Jenkinson said. "I hope that she's OK."
Henry said Sweeten presented the borrowed driver's license as her own when she bought an airline ticket in Philadelphia and flew to Orlando with her daughter.
They had minimal luggage and the hotel was paid through Friday, Henry said. Sweeten had withdrawn about $12,000 from several bank accounts over recent days, but authorities were investigating whether that money had been stolen.
"We believe that there were some domestic concerns with her husband and some financial concerns as well," Henry said.
In frantic 911 calls on Tuesday, Sweeten said two men had bumped her SUV, carjacked her and stuffed her in the trunk of a dark Cadillac. She implied that her daughter was with her in the trunk, according to Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore, who listened to tapes of the calls.
Sweeten, who is white, described her assailants as black but otherwise gave few details about their appearance, Vanore said.
Police found inconsistencies with her story from the start, and noted that they could not find witnesses on the busy road in Upper Southampton Township who saw an abduction. The Denali was found early Wednesday on a downtown Philadelphia street, about 20 miles away, with a parking ticket issued shortly after the calls were made. Police knew the 911 calls were made in the same area.
Sweeten has two other daughters, a 15-year-old from a prior marriage and an 8-month-old with her current husband, a landscaper. Julia Rakoczy attended elementary school in Bensalem until she was withdrawn from classes May 1, said Susan Harder, an administrative assistant with the Bensalem Township School District.
Her ex-husband and the 9-year-old girl's father, Anthony Rakoczy, said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that he thinks she got in over her head and "lost it a little bit."
"I've known this woman for a long time," he said. "She's always been very together, tons of friends. Everybody loves her."
He said he thinks she needs help, and he will make sure her kids will be involved in her life no matter what.
Sweeten, 38, of Feasterville, is listed as a director of a New Hope-based charity called The Carlitz Foundation, run by lawyer Debbie Carlitz. The charity's stated goal is raising money for autism research and for people in Burma. Carlitz did not return e-mail or phone messages Wednesday night.
"Bonnie was a very, very organized person," said Susan Cordeiro, secretary of the parent-teacher group at Belmont Hills Elementary School in Bensalem, which Julia had attended. "She was at every meeting, she was very involved. ... She's on top of her game all the time, even when she was pregnant."
Associated Press writers Bill Bergstrom in Feasterville, Pa., Patrick Walters in Southampton, Pa., and Jennifer Yates in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The state Department of Education updated Advanced Placement test data for schools across the state last month — five weeks after acknowledging it had posted incorrect scores for the 2015-16 school year.
A handcuffed suspect escaped from the downtown San Diego police station Sunday but was back in custody about an hour later when police surrounded him in the harbor water near the G Street Pier, police said.
A tribute to the late "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher was one highlight of the final day of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center.
vehicle that rolled off the right shoulder of southbound Interstate 5 south of the Border Patrol checkpoint near San Onofre State Beach sparked a fire and prompted the closure of two southbound lanes on Sunday morning, according to a California Highway Patrol incident log.
A vegetation fire near Warner Springs that spread quickly Saturday has slowed considerably Sunday and is 20 percent contained, though some residents in the area are under an evacuation warning, authorities said.
Police are investigating a mysterious death in Mission Valley. A woman reported missing was found murdered at a her office on Saturday.
Signs warning of shark in the area of Silver Strand State Beach have been posted following a report of a shark sighting Saturday morning.
It's a Comic-Con blast from the past! News 8 dug deep in the archives to see what's changed and what's stayed the same now that the convention is in its 47th year. Andrea Naversen shows us which characters were a big hit back in 1989 and still are today.