Woman charged after video captures her allegedly trying to run off with couple's children at airport

Police said that Esther Daniels appeared to be suffering "mental distress."

June 27, 2019, 5:34 AM

A woman who was traveling with her kids to Florida from their home in Atlanta told police that a stranger she encountered at the airport repeatedly tried to walk away with her children.

Georgia police say the incidents were captured on the airport's surveillance video, and a woman has been charged with kidnapping and obstructing an officer.

According to a police report, the mother told officers that she was walking through the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Saturday when another woman approached her and attempted to grab her stroller with the woman's child in it.

The incident happened in the public area before travelers passed through security, the woman told police.

Surveillance video shows a woman dressed in black and white and wearing a large, pink floppy hat standing in the middle of the atrium by herself. Police identified the woman as Esther Daniels, 26, of Kansas.

The video then shows a woman pushing a stroller and luggage, and a child walking alongside her. The woman in the pink hat appears to walk beside them. The two appear to tussle over the stroller and the mother's husband, who is also shown pushing a stroller with a child, can be seen rushing over to help.

When the mother pulled the stroller away from the woman's grasp, she told officers, the woman then allegedly grabbed the older child who had been walking alongside his mother, and "tried to walk away with him," police said.

PHOTO: Police arrest a woman they say was captured on video trying to kidnap two children at the airport in Atlanta, June 22, 2019.
Police arrest a woman they say was captured on video trying to kidnap two children at the airport in Atlanta, June 22, 2019.
via Atlanta Police Department

Video showed the woman carrying the child in her arms and attempting to run away as officers surrounded the group. In the video, the husband is able to pull the child from her arms and carry him to safety and the woman can be seen running from officers.

Both children involved in the incident were checked by emergency medical services at the airport, police said. Neither child was injured.

Police said in their report that when officers -- including a police traffic control officer -- encountered Daniels, she was talking on a cell phone.

"I asked Ms. Daniels what was wrong and she tried to pass her cell phone over to me to talk to someone. Ms. Daniels wasn't able to speak in a manner to where I was able to understand her," the report said. "Ms. Daniels (continued) to blurt out things that made me believe that she was in some type of mental distress."

When officers tried to take the phone from her, the report said, she allegedly ran back toward the couple and their children. Daniels allegedly resisted officers and "remained combative" during the arrest, police said.

She was eventually arrested by officers and taken into custody. Police said she did receive medical attention "due to her mental state and some blood on her lower lip."

It is unclear whether Daniels has retained an attorney.

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