RIVERDALE, Md. — It’s not every day that a Facebook post finds a missing baby. It’s rare when the rescue happens in a few hours. And it’s even more extraordinary when the infant goes missing in Montgomery County, and a stranger riding the New York City subway looks up and recognizes the baby.
Such is the chain of events with the safe return of 1-year-old Ziona Amaya, first reported missing by Montgomery County detectives on Sunday. But. it was the social media reach of the local non-profit, Black and Missing, Inc., that led to the case’s conclusion, police said.
“This case gives hope to other families, to never give up, never stop,” said Derrica Wilson, co-founder of Black and Missing. “We have to applaud that vigilant community member, that saw our social media post, snapped the picture, and reported it to law enforcement.”
Wilson’s non-profit has spent the past 14 years bringing cases with missing persons of color into the spotlight. Black and Missing’s Facebook page posted the Montgomery Police missing flier Wednesday morning.
By 4:30 p.m. the same day, Wilson learned a Facebook follower saw the post, recognized the baby and the child’s father on the subway, and crucially, took a picture on their phone.
The individual then contacted authorities in Maryland, who immediately reached out to the NYPD. Officers in New York were able to track down the infant and declare her safe.
“Don't just like the post, share!” Wilson said. “We have to be that digital milk carton. Just because someone is missing in this area, doesn’t mean that they're in this area. This right here is all of our responsibility. Law enforcement, the media and the community. And it just shows the power of when we all come together.”
Ziona's father has since been charged with kidnapping and hiding a child by relocation out of state.