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Grand Forks woman, mother charged in connection to alleged kidnapping of toddler

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GRAND FORKS -- A Grand Forks woman and her mother face serious prison time after law enforcement said they worked together to kidnap an 18-month-old child.

Jasmine Sophia Davis, 21, was scheduled to appear Friday afternoon in Grand Forks District Court on a Class B felony of kidnapping while interfering with a governmental function. Her mother, 39-year-old Melissa Sue Davis, also was charged Friday with criminal conspiracy, a Class A felony, and hindering law enforcement, a Class C felony.

The charges stem from allegations Jasmine Davis fled with her child, Jaylee Azure, on Thursday afternoon from Grand Forks County Social Services. Staff with the agency told Jasmine Davis they intended to take custody of the child, but the mother took Jaylee, exited the Grand Forks County Building, hopped into a pickup and was driven away by Melissa Davis, according to charging documents.

The alleged kidnapping prompted an Amber Alert that lasted several hours. It was believed the child may be in danger, a criteria for issuing the public alert telling the public a child has been abducted.

Amber Alerts are rare in North Dakota. Sheriff’s Deputy B.J. Maxson said he couldn’t recall whether Grand Forks County has issued one before this.

The alert was canceled late Thursday evening after a family member brought Jasmine Davis and Jaylee to the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department, court documents state. Jaylee was turned over to social services unharmed, and Jasmine Davis was arrested on the kidnapping charge and on two outstanding warrants, according to a news release.

Court documents do not suggest Jasmine Davis and Jaylee ever left the county -- she took the child to 821 S. 25 Street in Grand Forks, according to court documents. That is believed to be where Melissa Davis lives, Maxson said.

Melissa Davis was booked at 4:06 p.m. Thursday into the Grand Forks County Correctional Center, more than six hours before her daughter and granddaughter were brought to the Sheriff’s Department. When she was arrested at her home, she told law enforcement she could not keep up with her daughter and didn’t know where Jasmine Davis went with Jaylee, according to court documents.

Court documents said Melissa Davis “did conspire to commit kidnapping.”

Jasmine Davis and Jaylee had met with social services before this incident, Maxson said. An officer sometimes is present when social services takes custody of a child, but no law enforcement were present during Thursday’s meeting with Jasmine Davis, Maxson said.

“Why didn’t this time, I don’t have that answer,” he said. “I think it’s just based on how the social worker feels the meeting will go with that client.”

The agency had a court order to take custody of the child, Maxson said. Social services had no problems dealing with Jasmine Davis in previous meetings, at least to Maxson’s knowledge.

Grand Forks County Social Service Director Scot Hoeper said he couldn’t disclose why his agency took custody of the child or whether they felt Jasmine Davis was a flight risk. Staff call in law enforcement when they feel officers are needed, including when there is a potential threat to children, he said.

“Whenever social services has custody of a child and we don’t know their whereabouts and we have that concern, our first call is to law enforcement,” he said.

When asked how often parents run away with children when social services attempt to take custody of minors, Hoeper said the agency hopes “it never happens, but we can’t say it will never happen.”

“When that does occur, we do whatever we can and use the resources that we can to locate and ensure safety,” he said.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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