Children Missing for a Year Found Less Than Two Hours From Disney World, 1100 Miles From Home

a young boy and girl

Two missing children, taken from their home nearly a year ago, have been found in Florida, less than two hours away from the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista.

cinderella castle

On February 1, police officers were performing a routine vehicle tag check in the parking lot of a grocery store in High Springs, Florida, less than two hours north of Disney World, when they were alerted to the location of a fugitive. Information returned to the officers indicated that the vehicle in question was registered to Kristi Nicole Gilley, a 36-year-old female wanted on an active kidnapping warrant filed in Clay County, Missouri, on July 13, 2022.

Gilley and the two children were located inside the Winn-Dixie grocery store, allegedly wearing disguises to conceal their identities.

winn dixie grocery store in florida

Credit: Parent Herald

“On February 1, 2023, HSPD located two abducted Missouri children and their abductor after a routine vehicle tag check indicated the vehicle owner was a fugitive,” the High Springs Police Department reported in an online update on the case. “Officers located the trio shopping in Winn Dixie, after disguising their identities.”

According to the High Springs Police Department, the children–identified as 11-year-old Brooke Gilley and 12-year-old Adrian Gilley–were initially turned over to the Florida Department of Children and Families Services before being reunited with their birth family.

“Both Gilley kids have been safely located out of state,” Liberty Police Department in Missouri said in an update. “Their non-custodial mother is in custody on parental kidnapping charges out of Clay County, Missouri. Thank you to everyone who shared this post, as it helped bring these children home!!!”

Gilley was taken to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Jail around 2:30 p.m. on February 2. As of the time of this post, she remains there on no bail, awaiting extradition to Missouri.

On Tuesday, Gilley’s attorney, Maurice McDaniel, filed a written plea of “not guilty” to all charges, according to documents filed with the Alachua County Clerk. Kristi Gilley is being held in the Alachua County Jail on no bail as she is expected to be extradited to Missouri.

Missouri kids' father says children 'still in shock' after mother kidnapped them | US | News | Express.co.uk

Credit: Daily Express

The two children have since been reunited with their father, Blake Gilley, who says that his children told him they hadn’t been to school since they disappeared and that they had been staying with their mother in various Airbnb locations in rural areas in multiple states, so they were undetected by authorities.

“My kids were missing. I didn’t know where they were,” Gilley said. “That’s the biggest fear in the world–it is an understatement to say I was terrified and freaked out.”

Gilley says his children are still in shock after being with their non-custodial mother for nearly a year.

“[Their mother] would never tell them what town they were in or anything,” Gilley explained. “If they were in a car, they had to keep their heads down.” He continued, saying that his son Adrian, who has Down Syndrome and is nonverbal, still keeps his head down when he’s in a vehicle.

“He’s getting better,” Gilley said. “I’ve been telling him, ‘Hey, you’re good, buddy, look up.'”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gilley children. Here’s hoping everything keeps looking up for the two children.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!