UPDATE: Custodial parents speak out after daughter found in Mexico City

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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV)-- "I didn't expect her to run to Mexico. I didn't see that one coming," said Miranda Craft, Josephine's custodial parent.

Josephine Craft was found safe in Mexico.

"I've felt mad and I've been upset and I just wanted her in my arms," said Craft.

For the last few weeks Josephine's disappearance was being sought after by state police and the U.S. Marshals Service.

"Mexican authorities and deputy Marshals were able to locate her in a hotel with her mother Shirley Murray," said J.C. Raffety, U.S. Marshal of the Northern District of West Virginia.

The Crafts had been trying to get a hold of Murray, but to no avail. They say they were assured by law enforcement that Josephine was ok, but the fear of where she was circulated in their thoughts daily.

"I was afraid she was going international with her and it would be hard to get her back," said her father, James Craft.

The call they'd been waiting for came in Tuesday night. Josephine found safe. Immediately, they jumped in the car and drove through the night to New York to reunite with their little girl.

"Miranda was sleeping and I woke her up and said 'hey get a pencil and get ready to take information down," said James Craft.

"I was jumping up and down. I couldn't wait to tell my family and friends who have stuck beside us. I was just like get in the car it's time to go," said Miranda Craft.

Earlier this month, an amber alert was issued for missing 4-year-old Gracelynn Scritchfield who was also taken by her biological parent.

"Last year we recovered over 250 children," said Raffety.

The Crafts say when Scritchfield was found it was nothing but reassuring to them about the outcome of their similar situation.

"For them to find her in a remote part of Texas, I thought it was pretty reassuring and I felt really confident that we were going to get Josephine back," said James Craft.

"Love her and tell her how much we love her and how much we missed her," said Miranda Craft.

At 1:09 p.m. her plane landed in New York where she was welcomed by her parents and her favorite stuffed animals.

She will be starting the first grade in a few days.

UPDATE 08/14/19 @ 10:03 a.m.
The missing child from Webster County was found safe in Mexico, according to the press release from U.S Marshals in the Northern District of West Virginia.

Josephine Craft, 6, was safely located in Mexico City Tuesday evening with the assistance of Mexican authorities, according to the press release.

The press release says Craft was reported missing July 20 after not being returned to her custodial parent from a scheduled visitation with her biological mother, Elizabeth Shirley Murray.

According to the press release, Murray is alleged to have scheduled to return Craft to her custodial parent on July 19, but failed to do so stating she was unable to make the trip, and that she would return the child on the following day.

The press release says on July 20, Craft was not returned and Murray could not be reached by phone.

The press release says on July 24 an emergency protective order was issued, granting custody of Craft to her father.

A warrant was issued in Webster County for Murray on July 25, charging her with concealment of a child, according to the press release.

According to the press release, the U.S. Marshals Service was requested to assist in locating Craft on July 26. Investigators immediately began assisting the West Virginia State Police to recover the missing child.

The press release says on August 13 at approximately 9 p.m., those efforts came to fruition when Craft and Murray were located at a hotel in Mexico City. Craft was said to be in good condition and is being returned to the U.S. to her father based on the court order.

The press release says Murray was expelled from Mexico due to having no legal right to remain in the country. She will be returned to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

“A timely and successful investigation has led to the safe recovery of 6 year old Josephine. The cooperation of our Mexican Law Enforcement partners in this investigation was invaluable” said U.S. Marshal JC Raffety. “I am fortunate to serve with Deputy US Marshals in the Northern District of West Virginia, who daily dedicate their lives to justice and the rule of law.”

According to the press release, this is the second missing child located by U.S. Marshals in the Northern District of West Virginia in August. Gracelynn Scritchfield, 4, was located on August 1 in Pecos, TX.



UPDATE 07/31/2019 10:30 P.M.
6-year-old Josephine Craft was dropped off in Sabraton for visitation with her biological mother, Elizabeth Shirley-Murray on July 12th for a week. On July 19th, Craft was supposed to be picked up by her custodial parents.

"When I went to pick her up in Sabraton at burger king on July 19th, she had sent me a text message saying that her car had broke down," said Miranda Craft.

Miranda and James Craft then allowed Murray to bring Josephine back to her parents on the 20th. Miranda Craft says that Josephine was supposed to return home in Webster county and Murray never showed up.

"I tried to contact her," said Craft. "The last correspondence I had with her was July 19th when she told me her car had broke down."

West Virginia State Police say that Murray is driving a 2000 gold/beige Toyota 4 Runner and believes that Craft was possibly spotted in the Martinsburg area. James Craft, Josephine's father, is asking people to keep searching for Josephine because he says he believes she is in danger.

"If you see the vehicle or my daughter, please call West Virginia State Police," said Craft.

Both parents hope that several people will be on the look out for their daughter and say that support from the community will help bring her home safely.

"Keeping us in your prayers and praying that Josephine is returned safely and securely and just remember to pray, pray, pray, pray."

State police are asking anyone with any information to contact Trooper Bostic at 304-765-2101.



ORIGINAL 07/31/2019 7:28 P.M.
West Virginia State Police are looking for a missing 6-year-old girl from Webster County.

Troopers say that Josephine Olivia Craft was last seen on July 12 in the Sabraton area. She was last seen with Elizabeth Jo Shirley-Murray.

Troopers say Shirley-Murray is believed to be driving a 2000
beige/gold color Toyota 4Runner.

Troopers say that Craft was possibly located in the Martinsburg area.

State police are asking anyone with any information to contact Trooper Bostic at 304-765-2101.