Police Searching For Manhattan Child Taken By Mother

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Riley County police are searching for a three-year-old boy who officials say was taken by his mother in violation of a court order.

According to police, there is information to indicate that the missing child's welfare may be in question.

On Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM, 39-year-old Arano Chavez of Manhattan reported that his son, Benjamin Antonio Chavez-Birdwell was taken by his mom, 29-year-old Sonja Karin Birdwell. Police say Sonja Birdwell went Chavez's home on Patricia Place and took Benjamin as well as a car.

Benjamin is 3’ 3” tall and 50 lbs.

Sonja Birdwell is a white female, 5’01”, 140 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes.

Birdwell is believed to be in a stolen 2008 White Mazda 3 sedan bearing a Kansas license plate reading: 053 EBR.

The Mazda has damage to the front grill and driver side front bumper. It also has a “Briggs Auto” front tag.

Officials said there is "strong information" to indicate that Birdwell is in the Topeka area. A reliable source spotted her twice in Topeka, police said.

The incident is listed as an Interference with Parental Custody and child welfare situation.

Benjamin's father and godparents spoke briefly to WIBW outside of the Riley County Police Department saying they are "very concerned" about the child.

Riley County Police Department spokesman Lieutenant Josh Kyle said the matter is an ongoing custody issue and that police are concerned for Benjamin's welfare if he remains in his mother's custody long term. However, he said that there is no indication that he is in grave danger. Kyle said officers will be following up to see if the case qualifies for an Amber Alert but he does not think it meets the guidelines.

In a press release, pictures of Birdwell were released in the form of a mug shot from jail but Kyle would not discuss her criminal history.

If located, please call your local law enforcement agency immediately

If you have any information related to this subject please contact the Riley County Police Department at 785-537-2112. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 539-7777 or 1-800-222-TIPS (8477); or send us a web tip at manhattanrileycountycrimestoppers.com.