Allison Tucker

Alleged child stealer thought she was being followed

Tucker says she called police for help before taking kids


A 21-year-old woman was paranoid that someone was following her when she drove her friend’s two young children from Jefferson to the eastern edge of Iowa and back, which set off a statewide search for them, according to court records.

Allison Tucker was arrested about 4:50 a.m. June 1 at a downtown Des Moines hotel where she took the kids after an impromptu road trip of about 500 miles.

One of the children, a 2-year-old, suffers from diabetes and didn’t have supplies to test blood-sugar levels. The other, a 4-year-old, helped Tucker navigate with a computer tablet, according to newly unsealed court documents.

Tucker suffers from bipolar disorder, according to the statewide Amber Alert that investigators used to find Tucker and the children. Tucker was transported on Tuesday from the Greene County Jail to see an Ames psychiatrist, court records show.

Tucker recently moved to a longtime friend’s house in Jefferson and had tended the children while their mother worked.

On May 31, Tucker drove the children to Des Moines and about 7 p.m. called the mother, Whitney Day, and said they were driving back to Jefferson. But they didn’t return, and Tucker allegedly turned off her cellphone.

Tucker later told state law officers that while she was in Des Moines, she worried that she was being followed by someone and called 911. She said she declined to file a formal report about the incident, and later, on the drive back to Jefferson, she feared she was being followed again.

“Tucker stated she feared for her and the children’s safety and turned away from Jefferson attempting to loose whoever was following her,” according to court documents.

She drove to Dubuque — about 200 miles away — where her older pickup truck ran out of fuel.

Day reported the children missing about 8:30 p.m.

Tucker drove back to Des Moines and rented a room at Hotel Fort Des Moines about 12:30 a.m.

Tucker said she received a message about the Amber Alert on her computer tablet from a friend about 4 a.m. She told the friend where she and the children were, and the friend told investigators, which led to her arrest and the children’s recovery.

The child that suffers from diabetes was taken to a local hospital and treated for low blood-sugar. Those with very low blood-sugar concentrations can lose consciousness, have seizures and die.

Tucker is charged with two felonies for child stealing and a misdemeanor for child endangerment. Together, they are punishable by up to 22 years in prison if she is convicted.

Investigators obtained a search warrant to seize two cellphones and a computer tablet. The warrant application shows that Tucker claimed the devices would not send and receive calls and messages during the time she was driving across the state.

The application also shows that Tucker spoke to several people during the trip — a gas station clerk in Dubuque, a person she asked for directions, and a hotel clerk in Des Moines — but did not seek help to escape whomever was allegedly following her.

Tucker is held at the Greene County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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