CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A 6-year-old Webster County girl missing since July 20 has been found in Mexico after being taken there by her biological mother, according to a release from the U.S. Marshals Service.
Marshals said Josephine Craft was safely located in Mexico City Tuesday evening with the assistance of Mexican authorities. Craft was reported missing on July 20 after not being returned to her custodial parent from a scheduled visitation with her biological mother, Elizabeth Shirley Murray, according to the release. West Virginia State Police said Craft had last been seen in the Sabraton area of Morgantown on July 12.
The release stated that Murray is alleged to have scheduled a return to Craft’s custodial parent on July 19, but failed to do so after she said she was unable to make the trip and would return Craft the following day. However, on July 20, Craft was not returned, and Murray could not be reached by phone, according to the release. Marshals said that on July 24, an emergency protective order was issued, granting custody of Craft to her father.
An arrest warrant was issued in Webster County for Murray on July 25, charging her with concealment of a child, according to the release.
The release stated the U.S. Marshals Service was requested July 26 to assist in locating Craft, and investigators immediately began assisting West Virginia State Police.
Marshals said that on Tuesday, August 13, at approximately 9 p.m., Craft was found with Murray at a hotel in Mexico City. The release stated Craft was found in good condition and is being returned to the United States to her father, based on the court order.
Murray was then expelled from Mexico because she had no legal right to remain in the country. She will be returned to the United States to face criminal charges, according to the release.
“A timely and successful investigation has led to the safe recovery of 6 year old Josephine. The cooperation of our Mexican Law Enforcement partners in this investigation was invaluable,” said U.S. Marshal JC Raffety. “I am fortunate to serve with Deputy US Marshals in the Northern District of West Virginia, who daily dedicate their lives to justice and the rule of law.”
The safe recovery of Craft is the second missing child located by U.S. Marshals in the Northern District of West Virginia in August. Gracelynn Scritchfield, 4, was located in Pecos, Texas on August 1 after being abducted by her biological father, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.