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A 10-year-old girl was found safe Saturday after a police negotiation with her mother, who abducted her from a West Valley City school Friday.
Aliyah Kay Crowder was reunited with her biological father Saturday morning, said West Valley police Sgt. Mike Powell.
The girl was "extremely tired," when police found her about midnight, but otherwise safe and healthy, Powell said. "I think it's best to say her family, her biological father, is just excited that she is safe and that she is back where she belongs."
Officers made contact with her mother, 38-year-old Athena Venus Barker, Friday evening and negotiated with her for several hours before she relinquished Aliyah.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said at a news conference the unique aspect of the whole scenario was that contact with police was initiated by the mother. Winder said she specifically asked to talk to the sheriff because "she thought I could be trusted," he said. By 11 p.m. that contact was established.
"I'm absolutely thrilled, I really am," Winder said. "It turned out very well."
Winder talked over the phone with Barker and the daughter off and on for about three hours before negotiations led to the girl being given to police at an undisclosed location outside of Salt Lake County.
Winder said Barker was "very well aware of the efforts to locate her"; she started to become more concerned as she saw all the electronic freeway signs regarding the Amber Alert and thought people were "overreacting."
Barker told Winder she didn't think all the signs and news coverage were necessary.
"Her perspective was that what she was doing was completely justified," Winder said, adding that his personal belief after talking with Barker was that the daughter was not in any danger and was "well cared for."
He said it was touching as he spoke with Aliyah, who is in the middle of a custodial battle, and she told him, "We are scared. I love my mommy and I love my daddy."
Winder said although Barker was not arrested, police know where she is and are in touch with her as the investigation continues.
Barker, who does not have custody of Aliyah, grabbed the girl from the cafeteria at Silver Hills Elementary School, 5770 W. 5100 South, about noon on Friday, Powell said.
Barker allegedly handed a secretary some false legal documents and dragged her daughter out of the building. She had a "stranglehold on the girl" as she proceeded to the parking lot, said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley.
Powell called Barker's actions at the school "aggressive" and "very concerning."
The U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI were also involved in the search.
An Amber Alert issued Friday afternoon was canceled early Saturday morning.
The girl's father and stepmother, who have custody of Aliyah, released a statement thanking the police, and expressing appreciation for the Amber Alert. Michael and Annie Varner said they were reunited with the girl about 2 a.m., and she was "doing very well."
Barker had abducted Aliyah once before, in February 2011. Police found her in Killdeer, N.D., several months later, after an officer noticed a broken tail light and tried to pull over her mother's boyfriend, Sanford Barker.
Sanford Barker fled to a Killdeer trailer park where police found the girl, who had been living with the couple. They brought Aliyah back to her father in October, according to a story in The Dickinson Press.
The newspaper reported that Barker were charged in North Dakota though not with kidnapping but a search of court records did not show a criminal record for the couple in Utah.
"We are aware of issues in the past that we have had to consider and look at," Powell said, though the previous kidnapping did not happen in West Valley City. Police are considering "will it occur again? How does this need to be dealt with?"