Yovonda Bennafield (Photo: Law Enforcement)
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon these days to hear about a teenager gone missing, but not too often do we hear about two young Black boys who have gone missing at the same time.
Five-year-old Ta-vyion Blockett and six-year-old Dante Blockett, who were abducted on Sunday afternoon at a Shell gas station in Newport News, Virginia, have been found, according to the Daily Press.
According to police, Sommer Pannell came into the gas station convenience store buying a pack of cigarettes and asked to use the phone to call someone for a ride to North Carolina. The clerk, Yovonda Bennafield, said that she would drive Pannell, a stranger, to North Carolina if she could watch her two children for her until she finished work.
Bennafield then gave Pannell the keys to her gold Ford Explorer after Pannell asked if she could take the children to the park. When Bennafield’s shift ended at 3 p.m. and the car and her children still had not been returned, she called the police.
Police issued an Amber Alert and just before 2 a.m. on Monday, a North Carolina police officer, Lt. Bobby Martin, identified the stolen vehicle in the parking lot of a North Carolina church. The two boys were found and Pannell was taken into custody.
Though she made it to North Carolina, one can almost assume that charges of kidnapping and theft were not originally in her trip plans.
Newport News police charged Bennafield with two counts each of felony child neglect.
A note to mothers: don’t leave your children with strangers.