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Phoenix police say couple made up report of toddler taken in stolen truck

James Wagner, left; Stormee Wagner (MCSO Photos)

PHOENIX — Police in Phoenix have determined the report of an 18-month-old girl kidnapped in a stolen truck Wednesday afternoon was fabricated.

Phoenix Police Department Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said the couple whose truck was stolen made up the story of the kidnapping to get a quicker police response in recovering the vehicle.

Stormee Wagner, 40, and her husband James Wagner, 37, were arrested and booked in Maricopa County Jail for false reporting to law enforcement, Fortune said.

The dark green truck was stolen from a convenience store near Third Avenue and Indian School Road.

“In the beginning, everything was indicative of a true kidnapping. … The story was believable,” Fortune told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

Investigators had video of the vehicle leaving the store and they saw photos, she said.

Fortune said more than 50 officers and a police helicopter searched for the truck they believed was carrying a child. The department was operating in Amber Alert mode, although one was never issued.

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t missing anything at all.”

The unidentified couple accused of taking the truck was found at a home near the store. They admitted to police they knew the other couple.

After interviewing all four suspects, police determined there was no child.

“I know there’s a lot of people that may think ‘you should have known this from the beginning,’ but we have to err on the side of finding this 18-month-old,” Fortune said.

“We did the right thing.”

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