The Utah parents who said they negotiated with an apparent kidnapper on their front lawn to let their 5-year-old daughter go called the happy ending “perfect” and described themselves as “so grateful.”
Aaron and Stephanie Holladay Edson were sleeping in their home near Salt Lake City, Utah, Friday morning when she was awakened by what her husband called, “women’s intuition.”
“I woke up, not to a noise, nothing woke me up -- and I looked at my cell phone because it was next to my bed and it was 4:07 a.m.,” Stephanie Edson said today on “Good Morning America.” “I remember thinking, 'I’m not tired. I’m awake. This is weird.' And I was fully, mentally alert.
“I was able to hear the things that were able to save my daughter -- such as I heard just kind of a dull thud and then I could hear Lainey’s voice. And I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but she’s my little talker,” she added of Lainey, 5. “She has a minor physical handicap and, with that, comes a gait pattern that, as her mother, I know very, very clearly and there were no footsteps. I knew something was wrong.”
Stephanie Edson ran to Lainey's bedroom only to find it empty. Her husband ran outside the house and said he saw a man holding Laney.
“I just said, ‘Lainey, Lainey, where are you?’ Then, as soon as I saw this man holding her, I continued in this peaceful mode and I said, ‘What are you doing?,’” Aaron Edson said. “He gave a story that he was in trouble and that if he had her with him that they wouldn’t kill him. He kept repeating this story, that he needed to get to a church and that, as long as she was with him, he would be safe.
“I said, 'Really, I want to help you but she has got to stay,’” Aaron Edson added. “I just walked up to him and held out my arm and he just handed her over peacefully and calmly, and no one’s voice ever got raised.
"Lainey just came to me just with a smile on her face," he said. "Everything was just fine."
Stephanie Edson said that when she got outside, she saw the back of her husband standing eerily still and that when he turned around his eyes looked “terrified.”
“We know each other well enough to recognize that,” she said. “He was holding my daughter, who was clutching a storybook. I grabbed her, and ran in the house and immediately got my cell phone to call 911.”
A suspect in the case, Troy Morley, 48, was later found by police hiding in the basement of a nearby home.
Lainey was not injured in the incident and, according to her mom, is doing fine.
She recalled what Lainey said when they got back inside the house.
“She was like, ‘Hi Mommy. I get to stay up until morning,’” Stephanie Edson said.
Morley was being held on charges of kidnapping, burglary, trespassing and resisting arrest. He has not entered a plea.
The Edsons said they are doing better after their “close call” and will have something extra special to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
“If there’s any good to come from this, it will be that this Thanksgiving will maybe be a little more special for us because it came so close to being something horrible,” Aaron Edson said. “We hope that, this time of year, everyone might hear this story, might be grateful for the things they have before they almost lose them.”