The frantic search for Bonnie Sweeten and her 9-year-old daughter – which began after she called 911 Tuesday to report that they had been kidnapped in Bucks County – ended Wednesday night at Walt Disney World.

Sweeten, 38, and daughter Julia Rakoczy were taken into custody at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa around 8:40 p.m., the FBI said. Sweeten was being held by authorities in Orange County, Fla., and her daughter was safe.

Sweeten will be extradited to Bucks County, where she faces charges of making a false report and identity theft, both misdemeanors. The investigation is continuing into possible theft charges, said Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry.

Julia Rakoczy’s biological father, Anthony Rakoczy, who lives in Feasterville, will travel to Florida Thursday to pick her up, Henry said.

Over the past week, Sweeten had withdrawn $12,000 from several bank accounts and used a co-worker’s driver’s license to travel, Henry said.

Authorities could not provide a motive for Sweeten to flee her home – leaving behind a husband two other children, including an infant daughter. (Why take just one child? Wouldn’t you miss the others? I just don’t get it.)

Before leaving, Sweeten called her husband, Richard, and told him pass along her love to her other children, in case she never saw them again, Henry said. (She didn’t steal enough money to start a new life, so you have to wonder if she was planning a murder suicide.)
“Right now I don’t think anyone is in position to discuss possible motives until we have talked to her,” said FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver.

The efforts to track down Sweeten – which included an Amber Alert and massive local and national media coverage – began when she told a Philadelphia 911 dispatcher about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday that she had been abducted by two black males and stuffed into the trunk of a Cadillac. (The issued an Amber Alert even though they didn’t believe her, but you hear all these stories of children who are really missing and the parents can’t get an Amber Alert. There is something flawed about the system.)

Authorities said she made several calls in which she claimed the men had kidnapped her after a minor accident at a busy intersection on Street Road in Upper Southampton.

Several calls were cut off, but Sweeten spoke at least twice with a Philadelphia dispatcher.

In the calls, Sweeten indicated that her daughter was with her, but the girl’s voice could not be heard, said Lt. Frank Vanore, a Philadelphia Police Department spokesman.

Police who responded to the Street Road scene found nothing to indicate an accident or a struggle. Authorities nevertheless issued an Amber Alert for the child and began a search over two counties.

Though police initially treated the case as they do most reported kidnappings – approaching it with an open mind and considering a range of possibilities, including a hoax or a custody dispute – officers found Sweeten’s 911 call especially convincing.

“It was chilling,” said a person involved in the case.

By yesterday, the investigation began to yield evidence that indicated that the abduction might not have happened.

Vanore disclosed yesterday that Sweeten’s calls to 911 were picked up by a cell-phone tower near 12th and Walnut Streets in Center City.

Furthermore, Sweeten’s GMC Yukon Denali was found at 15th and Chestnut Streets about 1:30 a.m. yesterday with a parking ticket on the windshield. The Denali had no damage that would indicate it had been involved in an accident.

Authorities also reported yesterday that about an hour after the alleged kidnapping, Sweeten and her daughter had been captured on video surveillance at Philadelphia International Airport. She used cash and a her co-worker’s borrowed ID to buy two one-way tickets to Orlando for her and her daughter, authorities said.

Henry said Sweeten told the co-worker that she needed the driver’s license to straighten out a pension issue.

Investigators also said they had heard multiple allegations that Sweeten was in financial distress, another reason to consider her claim of kidnapping a hoax.

Sweeten, a Bensalem High School graduate, listed her profession in court records as a trained paralegal.

Sweeten married Anthony Rakoczy in 1992, and they had two daughters, Paige, 15, and Julia. The couple divorced amicably in 2003, and she married Richard Sweeten in 2005. He owns a landscaping business, and the couple live on a culde-sac in Feasterville and have an 8-month-old daughter, Faith.

Paige Rakoczy was in school at the time her mother made the 911 calls. The baby was in day care, Henry said.

Neighbor Fred Goodson said he became good friends with the Sweetens when both families moved into the neighborhood around the same time 21/2 years ago.

He called Bonnie Sweeten “a great, great lady” who kept a list of birthdays for all the children in the neighborhood and never failed to buy them presents.

He called Julia Rakoczy “a little spark plug” who organized events for children in the neighborhood, including an Earth Day celebration.

“It’s hard for me to see her on that TV screen,” Goodson said yesterday before news broke that Sweeten and Julia had been found in Florida. “She’s a sweet little girl. It’s a shock to us.”

Another neighbor, Sean Tchourumoff, whose daughter is friends with Julia, said the little girl split her time between her parents. He said he had noticed that she seemed to be under some stress, but he attributed that to the normal strains of having divorced parents.

Julia had been attending Belmont Elementary School in Bensalem, but she was withdrawn on May 1, a Bensalem School District spokeswoman said.

Julia and her sister Paige then enrolled in the Neshaminy School District, said Louis T. Muenker, district superintendent. Muenker declined to identify which schools the sisters attended.

Crisis-intervention teams were sent to district schools yesterday, Muenker said, when Julia was still believed to have been kidnapped.

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