What was initially reported as an abduction of a toddler Tuesday resulted in the arrest of a Hood County man in Wise County – but not on a kidnapping charge.
Thomas Earl McClendon, 53, of the 1000 block of Pawnee Trail in Indian Harbor, was arrested about 6:30 p.m. in the Wise County town of Briar just after he handed over the 2-year-old girl to her biological father in a prearranged meeting at a convenience store, Weatherford Police Department Sergeant John Rudolph said Thursday.
McClendon, the common-law husband of the girl’s 32-year-old mother the past two years, took the child with him after an incident with the woman that began in Wise County, Rudolph explained.
The child was unharmed.
“He took her directly to the baby’s daddy,” Rudolph said. “He had a fight with his girlfriend.”
Rudolph said the kidnapping charge was “unfounded” although McClendon will face several other charges, including three felony counts. He added that McClendon’s girlfriend likely won’t be charged with making a false report because of the circumstances of the case.
The woman got out of McClendon’s pickup and called police from a store in Weatherford late that afternoon, reporting that McClendon had taken the child. Law enforcement officers around the area began to search for his pickup, including multiple local units that spread out over the northern part of Hood County after being informed that he might be heading for Indian Harbor.
McClendon’s girlfriend claimed that he “held her (the girlfriend) in the truck and assaulted her for hours while he drove around,” Rudolph said, noting that the suspect told authorities that he wanted to take the child away from the mother because of her alleged drug use.
Rudolph said that McClendon’s charges include assault of the girlfriend, bond violation on a continuous family violence assault charge, and criminal mischief in connection with cutting off his ankle tracking monitor. He was transported to the Parker County Jail.
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