Moms

Missing Fort Worth girl, mother found in New Mexico

FORT WORTH -- A nationwide Amber Alert search for a missing 11-year-old Fort Worth girl and her mother ended Sunday when New Mexico police found them near a national forest, police said.

Jessica Smith and her mother, Kimberly Smith, 42, were found about 1 p.m. Sunday in their SUV nine miles south of Tres Piedras, in north-central New Mexico near Carson National Forest, according to a Fort Worth Police Department news release.

Authorities, working on tips, had been canvassing the state since shortly after Jessica was reported missing from her home in Fort Worth on Tuesday.

The two, who were hungry and exhausted, were taken to Holy Cross Hospital in Taos.

Jessica did not appear to be injured, police said.

The Taos Police Department coordinated the search efforts of multiple agencies over several days, the agency said on its Facebook page.

Northern New Mexico is under a winter weather advisory, so the timing of the find might have been perfect.

Police expect to seek extradition of Smith to Fort Worth on charges of aggravated assault and endangering a child. She is accused of violence against her daughter the day before the two disappeared.

"If not for the actions of the school officials, witnesses, reporting parties, along with the coordinated efforts of our law enforcement and media partners, this unfortunate, sensitive and complicated investigation would not have ended with such a positive outcome," police Sgt. Pedro Criado said in the news release.

Police gave no other details Sunday.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, officials from the Fort Worth Police Department and the Tarrant County district attorney's office were on a plane to New Mexico.

Jessica's relatives had told authorities that her mother is mentally ill and has threatened suicide and harm to her children, police have said.

An Amber Alert was issued Tuesday because Jessica was taken from her home in far north Fort Worth by her mother, police said.

Smith has custody of Jessica, and they lived at a house in the 7300 block of Indiana Avenue.

School officials called police Tuesday when Jessica did not arrive, and they expressed concern for her well-being.

Investigators went to the house and learned that the previous evening, Kimberly and Jessica were involved in domestic violence.

"Smith placed Jessica in imminent danger of serious bodily injury," Criado has said.

The next morning, relatives told police, when they realized that Smith and Jessica were not in the house, they assumed that Jessica had gone to school.

Jessica's father, Phillip Monroe Smith, 36, is facing a charge of sexual abuse of a child under 14, police and court records say. He was arrested in October and was released after posting $100,000 bail.

Phillip and Kimberly Smith are divorcing. The family was ordered to undergo psychological evaluations, and the divorce case was referred to mediation, records say.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.,

817-390-7763

Twitter: @stcrime

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