Mississippi man charged with stealing car that had a baby inside; baby found safe

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi judge on Tuesday set bond at $300,000 for a man accused of stealing a car with a 7-month-old baby inside.

James Wilson, 44, of Rankin County, was arrested Monday at a hotel in Jackson and charged with auto theft and kidnapping.

The Mazda sedan was unattended with its motor running when it was stolen Saturday evening from a gas station near Interstate 55 in north Jackson, police said. The car was found that night at a shopping center a few miles away, with the unharmed baby still inside. Police said she received a medical check as a precaution.

Wilson told news outlets Monday that he did not steal the car. Police said he is on probation for prior auto theft convictions.

Tommie Brown, public information officer for the Jackson Police Department, told The Associated Press he did not know whether Wilson is represented by an attorney. The AP also left a phone message for Jackson city court services seeking that information.

A detective testified during a Tuesday court hearing that one video showed Wilson near the gas station and another showed him parking the car near a grocery store and other shops in Fondren neighborhood and walking away, news outlets reported.

Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade said officers will talk with Child Protection Services and the Hinds County district attorney before deciding whether to bring any charge against the baby's mother. Wade said parents should never leave children unattended in a running vehicle.

“You can not replace that baby," he said.