On Saturday October 8th, just as Hurricane Matthew was getting ready to hit the east coast, four-year-old Rebecca Lewis was taken from her home in Lakeland, Florida.
It wasn't until Monday that an Amber Alert helped save the little girl, and allowed for her safe return home.
According to WFTV, Lewis and her alleged kidnapper, West Wild Hogs, were spotted by 23-year-old Katlyn Brown, a Baptist East Hospital employee in Memphis, Tennessee. Hogs reportedly lived with Lewis's family for about two years before he was kicked out for pulling a gun on them.
Brown told the media that she recognized the little girl thanks to the Amber Alert she saw being shared on Facebook. Brown admitted that when she first saw Lewis and Hogs walking around the hospital's hallways, she went straight to her father who is a head nurse at the same hospital.
“We were walking around the halls trying to locate them and as soon as we do, we started walking towards them. My dad says 'hey' to [Hogs] and he says 'hey' back and I'm just focused on that little girl. I'm just trying to get the details of her out and her face. As soon as we pass them my dad looks over at me and I show him my phone and I said, 'she's wearing the same outfit.'”
Brown admits that if it weren't for the photos on the Amber Alert, she never would have known that the little girl she passed in the hallway had been kidnapped.
However, some are speculating whether or not Tennessee authorities “dropped the ball” when it came time to releasing the Amber Alert. According to CNN, Tennessee declined to issue an Amber Alert after Polk County, Florida Sheriff Grady Judd requested one be released.
Tennessee said that at the time of the request, the state didn't have sufficient enough evidence to believe that Lewis was in the area. As it turns out, Hogs had been in Tennessee and was even spotted late Sunday night by a Cove Lake State Park ranger.
The ranger told WFTV that he noticed the stolen gray 2012 Nissan Versa Hogs was driving at a state park around 10 p.m. When he asked the kidnapper what he was doing, Hogs told the ranger that he was waiting for Lewis's mother to pick her up.
The ranger then told Hogs that he needed to leave because the park was closed. He had no idea until after the Amber Alert was released on Monday afternoon, that he had just let the missing child leave with her kidnapper.
Hours later, Hogs and Lewis were seen again in a Tennessee convenience store.
As a Tennessee police officer told WFTV, the way Lewis was found is exactly why Amber Alerts exist:
“It goes into the importance of Amber Alerts and looking at details and looking at photos and calling local law enforcement that they are in.”
As of 2015, 800 children have been rescued specifically because of Amber Alert, the U.S. Department of Justice reports. Amber Alert cases have also shown that some perpetrators release the abducted child after hearing of the alert.
Brown told the media that after her experience, she would encourage everyone to pay close attention any time an Amber Alert is released:
“Oh my gosh, pay attention to them. Not only the ones that come to your phone, but even social media when they come up on there. Pay attention to the picture, pay attention to the little details because I've had my moment when they would come up on my phone and I didn't pay attention, but now I don't think I will ever not pay attention again.”
If it wasn't for that Amber Alert, Brown would have never been able to identify Lewis, or have helped reunite the four-year-old with her family.
Watch Lewis reunite with her family below: