Florida Couple Abduct Toddlers, Steal Mom’s Car, Drive to Wisconsin, Abandon Kids

Florida couple Adalyn Jean Burkett, 18, and Marquan L. Edwards, 22, of Panama City, were arrested this week after they agreed to babysit two Florida toddlers overnight, then took the mother’s car and drove the kids 1,000 miles to Wisconsin, where they abandoned them in a public park.

According to a press release from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the mother of the children contacted sheriff’s deputies to report that Burkett, whom the mother “believed to be a friend,” had allegedly taken her two children, 1 and 2, out of state without her knowledge or consent. The mother further claimed that Burkett had also taken her vehicle.

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In an interview with law enforcement, the mother said she spent the previous night with Burkett. During that time, she told Burkett agreed to babysit her two children the following night. The mother also permitted Burkett to use her vehicle with the understanding that it would be returned the next day.

When the mother tried to contact Burkett, she discovered that Burkett and her children left the state of Florida.

Marquan L. Edwards & Adalyn Jean Burkett

The BCSO Criminal Investigations Unit immediately launched efforts to locate the missing children. The investigation allegedly revealed Burkett was accompanied by a man, later identified as Edwards, and they had traveled from Panama City, Florida, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the mother’s vehicle, taking the two children along with them for the approximately 16-hour drive.

Investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Burkett and contacted the Milwaukee Police Department to aid in apprehending the suspects.

In response to the escalating situation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) issued a Missing Child Alert seeking public assistance in locating the children, identified as DeKarsen Middleton, aged 2, and Delyla Middleton, aged 1. The alert was widely disseminated through various media outlets.

Upon learning of the Missing Child Alert, the suspects allegedly sought to” distance themselves from the investigation and potential arrest” by abandoning the children at a public park in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee police found the kids later that evening and took them to the local police station.

After a thorough investigation, U.S. Marshals arrested the suspects at a residence in Milwaukee on June 26. Milwaukee police were also investigating their actions.

Burkett was charged with one count of interference with child custody and one count of grand theft of an automobile. Edwards was charged with one count of principal interference with child custody.

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