Two Kidnapped Children Found Nearly One Year Later In Florida Supermarket
In February 2023, a routine vehicle tag check near a Winn-Dixie supermarket helped police locate the alleged kidnapper, 36-year-old Kristi Nicole Gilley, inside the store with the two children.
On Feb. 1, 2023, after being missing for nearly a year, two children from Missouri were found at a Winn-Dixie supermarket in High Springs, Florida.
Brooke and Adrian Gilley were reported missing in March 2022. They were with their non-custodial mother Kristi Nicole Gilley; a parental kidnapping warrant had been filed against her on July 13.
Police had discovered the three were at the supermarket after a routine license plate tag check on Gilley’s vehicle revealed that she was a fugitive.
The children, who are 11 and 12 years old, hadn’t been to school since the abduction, and their mother kept them hidden by going to a series of Airbnb rentals in rural areas. She also disguised their identities and limited who they interacted with, according to what their father Blake Gilley, 38, told NBC News. He said, “Kristi would never tell them what town they were in or anything. If they were in a car, they had to keep their heads down. My son still does that."
One of the children is non-verbal with down syndrome, and both children were instructed to avoid speaking with people in public, Blake Gilley also explained. He said that he and Kristi had divorced in 2016, and she disappeared with the children before they could resolve an ongoing custody dispute.
Once the children were discovered at the grocery store, they were turned over to the Florida Department of Children and Families Services, and then they were reunited with their father on Friday, Feb. 3.
Kristi Nicole Gilley was arrested on an active kidnapping warrant out of Clay County, Missouri. PEOPLE reported that she remains in custody. She is listed as an inmate in the Alachua County jail in Florida.
Blake Gilley said the children were still in shock but that he was going to put them back in school and make sure they received counseling. He told NBC News that police deserve a lot of credit in finding the children and reuniting them with their father.