Timmins Police Sgt. Darren Dinel, left, and Const. Rick Lemieux spoke at a press conference in Timmins Thursday just hours after police in North Bay apprehended a Timmins man accused of abducting his two young children and fleeing the community. The abduction sparked a nation-wide Amber Alert. Photo taken in Timmins on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. RON GRECH/TIMMINS DAILY PRESS/QMI AGENCY
A man accused of abducting his two young children is expected to appear in Timmins bail court early next week.
The two children — Aiden Johnson, 3, and Kara Johnson, 1 — who were the subject of a nation-wide Amber Alert were found safe in North Bay Thursday morning.
They had been missing since late Wednesday afternoon.
The father is in custody.
Staff at a North Bay hotel have been credited for providing the tip that led police stopping a vehicle just outside the city. The vehicle was occupied by the accused Zachary Johnson, 34, his two children and two other adult occupants who police have not identified.
"Several media outlets throughout the province broadcast the Amber Alert — newspapers, radio and television," said Timmins Police Service Sgt. Darren Dinel, the case manager for the investigation.
Dinel spoke at a press conference at the Timmins Police Service station about two hours after police had found the children and apprehended the father.
"As a result of the information broadcast in the Amber Alert, employees of a hotel located in North Bay observed a photograph of the children" in the online edition of The North Bay Nugget newspaper, said Dinel.
"The employees recognized the children who had checked into the hotel with their father Zachary Johnson. The employees observed all three leaving the hotel in a vehicle and quickly notified the North Bay Police Service" providing details of the vehicle they were in.
"The North Bay Police Service acted quickly by sending several members, police personnel to the area where the vehicle was last seen. A short time later, the vehicle was located on Hwy. 17 East, just on the outskirts of North Bay. The vehicle was pulled over in a traffic stop.
"Inside the vehicle both children were located, as well as Zachary Johnson. Both children appeared to be in good health. They were apprehended by the North Bay Police Service and turned over to Child and Family Services in North Bay."
Dinel said arrangements were being made between the Child and Family Services in North Bay and in Timmins for the children to be transferred back home.
TPS Const. Rick Lemieux said the children had been last seen Wednesday 5:45 p.m. at their maternal grandmother's residence on College St.
The children live with their grandmother.
Zachary Johnson "went to pick up his son earlier and they went sliding," said Lemieux. "Then he brought him home, when he got back to the grandmother's residence, he took the daughter and just left with the two kids. And then his vehicle broke down on Westmount" just a short distance away.
Police found his vehicle, a four-door Pontiac, broken down and abandoned on Westmount Blvd., near University St., in Timmins.
Timmins Police were not able to explain where Zachary Johnson got the vehicle which brought him to North Bay.
The vehicle they were in when police stopped them was not registered to Zachary Johnson, but Timmins Police Service said there was no indication the vehicle was stolen.
Lemieux said police were taking no chances about the children's safety in light of the fact the father is taking medication to treat depression.
Dinel said the accused is known to police as a result of previous criminal charges.
He is currently facing charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in connection with a previous, unrelated matter.
In May, Zachary Johnson was charged by the OPP in South Porcupine with possession of a controlled substance. Police at the time, said they nabbed a man with a quantity of oxycodone tablets worth about $1,500.
Dinel said they are reviewing details of the case and will determine if the abduction will result in police laying charges for kidnapping.
Dinel confirmed there were two additional adults found in the vehicle when they arrested Zachary Johnson, however he was uncertain of their level of involvement, if any, in the abduction.
"It is an investigation that is unfolding. There are no charges laid on them at this time."
When the Amber Alert was issued, police suspected the accused may be headed for Ottawa, Nova Scotia or St. Sauveur des Monts, Que.
Lemieux said, "His father lives in Ottawa, he's got an aunt in Nova Scotia, and friends and family in Quebec."
Speaking at press conference, Dinel said police were still uncertain of Zachary Johnson's intended destination. He said they would try to determine that when the accused is brought to Timmins and they have the chance to interview him.
Commentary by the OttawaMensCentre
Notice how they plan on "interviewing him". Then there is the fact he was allegedly charged with
having $1500 worth of oxycodone tables.
Now, this article reveals that that the children "live with their grandmother".
This story begs the question as to why an Amber Alert was issued.
If this had been a mother, probably not. That's Timmins.