CEDAR CITY — A woman who was allegedly transporting an infant from Ohio without permission from the child’s mother was arrested following a traffic stop on Interstate 15 near Parowan on Christmas Eve.

Closeup of Utah Highway Patrol patrol vehicle, Cedar City, Utah, May 14, 2022 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Shari Dolores Gould, 32, was booked into Iron County Jail shortly before midnight on Sunday. She is being held without bail on suspicion of multiple charges, including six counts of of child endangerment, a third-degree felony; one count of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony; misdemeanor counts of drug possession, driving with a measurable amount of a controlled substance and driving on a suspended or revoked license; plus three infractions for failing to secure a seat belt for a passenger between ages 8-16.

According to the probable cause statement filed in support of Gould’s arrest, shortly after 6 p.m. dispatchers at the Cedar City Communications Center received a call from the Bedford Heights (Ohio) Police Department reporting that a kidnapping suspect was traveling southbound on I-15 at approximately mile marker 128 in Beaver County.

The police in Ohio told dispatchers that the suspect was driving a dark gray Chevrolet Malibu with Ohio license plates.

“They stated that she was not given permission from the mother to take the (child) out of state,” the arresting Utah Highway Patrol trooper wrote in the affidavit. “She was also refusing to return the child to the mother.”

Approximately 40 minutes later, at about 6:43 p.m., a Utah Highway Patrol trooper was able to locate the vehicle as it was heading south in Iron County and confirm its license plate number.

“As I was traveling southbound behind the vehicle I watched as the vehicle drifted out of the lane of travel on the right multiple times,” the trooper wrote in the affidavit, adding that he then activated his emergency lights, upon which the driver then pulled over and came to a stop near mile marker 75.

The driver, identified as Gould, had six children riding in the car with her, ranging in age from 4 months to 13 years old, according to the affidavit. The 4-month-old baby was the subject of the initial kidnapping report.

File photo of Iron County Jail, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 17, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The arresting trooper then placed Gould into custody and drove her to the jail while another trooper drove the suspect vehicle to the UHP offices in Cedar City with the children still inside, after which they were placed into protective custody.

A subsequent search of the vehicle yielded the following, according to the affidavit:

A marijuana pipe in plain sight in the center console.
A bag containing a loaded .22 caliber pistol and a small amount of marijuana. 
Two bags, each containing a small amount of cocaine. One bag was reportedly found under the front driver seat, while the other was located in the back seat within reach of the three children riding there.

Additionally, the three children in the back seat were not properly secured in seat belts, the trooper noted in the statement.

“During the investigation, the 13-year-old child told us that the suspect had presented the firearm to them and would actively smoke marijuana in the vehicle with them while she was driving,” the arresting trooper wrote.

“The suspect does not have any ties to Utah,” the affidavit states, adding, “She was given multiple chances to bring the child back and she refused. Based on the totality of the circumstances and the seriousness of them, It is highly likely that the suspect would flee the jurisdiction of the courts and not return.”

According to the affidavit, which was filed in Utah’s 5th District Court early Monday, police in Ohio were in the process of working on a separate warrant for potential child kidnapping charges. 

This report is based on statements from court documents and law enforcement officials and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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