HAMBURG TWP, MI — Florida police found the missing Hamburg Township woman and her daughter by tracking the cell phone of the man with whom they traveled.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s reported Michigan authorities pinged Douglas Stanko’s cell phone and found it in Homosassa, where 30-year-old Amanda Hayward’s mother lives.
Homosassa is about 74 miles north of Tampa.
Hayward and her 7-year-old daughter, Sapphire Palmer, went missing at 3 a.m. Tuesday, May 10 in Hamburg Township. Michigan State Police issued an Amber alert on May 12 after the investigation found they were likely traveling with 64-year-old Stanko, a convicted sex offender who lives in Ypsilanti.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office found Hayward and Sapphire at about 6 p.m. Thursday. Multiple police agencies approached Hayward’s mother’s home and located Hayward and Sapphire.
Everyone at the residence cooperated with law enforcement, police said. Stanko was not at the residence and was apparently en route to Michigan.
Florida Child Protective Services took Sapphire into protective custody after a Michigan judge signed an order.
Police said Hayward did not have a 9mm handgun Hamburg Township Police believed she was carrying. Her father verified the gun is in Michigan, according to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.
Hayward was scheduled to call into a Michigan court hearing at 10 a.m.
Hayward’s father, Darryl Hayward, told police his daughter had been acting paranoid recently.
Stanko’s roommate, 64-year-old John Horton, said Hayward was supposed to testify against her ex-husband this week for a domestic violence case.
At 6:30 a.m. May 10, Hayward’s purse, including her credit cards and cash, was found on the side of the road several miles from her home. Sapphire did not show up to school on Tuesday and Wednesday.
At about 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 11 in Ypsilanti Township, a member of the Livingston and Washtenaw Narcotics Enforcement Team found the Hayward’s unoccupied, black 2001 Chevrolet Prizm.
Police said Hayward and Sapphire were traveling with Stanko in his red, 2001 Ford Escape.
Hayward told Click on Detroit she and Sapphire were alone.
“Nope, I am not traveling with anybody,” she said. “No one has touched her and no one has harmed her.”