Missing Idaho baby Zeke Best found dead after Amber Alert; father in custody

Add to your saved storiesSave

An Idaho baby was found dead Saturday, one day after an Amber Alert was issued for him, according to police. The child was found near his father, who is now in custody in connection with the death of his pregnant wife in a case that the woman’s family says has left them in “unimaginable” pain.

Police searched nearly 30 hours for 10-month-old Zeke Best, who was reported kidnapped after his mother, Kali Jean Randall, 38, was found dead inside her home in Victor, Idaho, on Thursday, according to the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office. Jeremy Albert Best, Randall’s husband and Zeke’s father, was named by authorities as an “armed and very dangerous” suspect both in his wife’s death, which was ruled a homicide, and his toddler’s kidnapping.

After an Amber Alert was issued Friday for Zeke, his body was found on the side of a road on Saturday morning, police said. The child was found dead after a group of hunters called to report a man in a sleeping bag on the side of the road. The man was identified as Best.

“The caller stated the man was naked and making odd statements,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Best, 48, was taken into custody Saturday on a warrant issued in connection with his wife’s death, the sheriff’s office said. Charges had not been announced by police as of Monday morning, and the investigation is ongoing.

“Best will remain incarcerated until arraignment before the court,” police said in a statement. It was not immediately clear whether Best has an attorney.

Brian Randall, Kali Randall’s brother, said in a statement to East Idaho News that the family is devastated by multiple deaths in three days.

“Our Zeke is now at rest with his loving mama and unborn sibling,” he said. “The pain we feel is unimaginable and we thank everyone for their support. You will never know how you have lifted our family up during this time. As this is an ongoing investigation, we ask for privacy as we take time to process and grieve.”

Most missing children named in Amber Alert notifications are found alive, according to recent reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, two children were found dead among the 254 Amber Alerts issued. In 2020, 10 children were located deceased among the 200 Amber Alerts issued that year. About 1,500 children had been safely recovered due to Amber Alerts as of Sept. 30, according to NCMEC.

Best and Kali Randall met in 2009 and married in September 2022, Brian Randall told People magazine. He told the outlet that his sister was a veterinarian technician who became an artist and made handcrafted jewelry.

“She was absolutely a genuine beautiful soul,” the brother told People.

Best was reported to law enforcement Thursday after he walked naked into a general store in Swan Valley, Idaho, according to the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office. After he was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls by ambulance, Best was released from the hospital once he was medically cleared that same day, the sheriff’s office said.

“During our contact, his apparent medical and/or potential mental health needs outweighed any criminal issues known at that time,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. “Understand that we helped facilitate removing him from being an issue at the store and got him to a place where those medical/mental health needs could be assessed. That was the most important thing we could do right then to make that scene safe and get Mr. Best the right resources he needed.”

The sheriff’s office added, “There was not an indication at that time his behavior would continue, escalate, pause, change, or stop — which is why he was taken to the appropriate place, the hospital, for evaluation.”

Hours later, deputies with the Teton County Sheriff’s Office responded to an open 911 call close to midnight at the residence where Best and Kali Randall lived. Randall was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. An arrest warrant was issued for Best in Teton County in connection with his wife’s homicide, and police said that “Best is believed to be armed and very dangerous.” At around 4:30 a.m. Friday, the Idaho State Police issued an Amber Alert to look for Zeke, Best’s 10-month-old son.

Nearly 30 hours passed until 9:17 a.m. Saturday, when a group of hunters called police to say they had found a man inside a sleeping bag on the side of the road, according to police. When Bonneville County deputies arrived at the scene about 24 miles east of Idaho Falls, they identified the man as Best. Police found his vehicle, a black Chevy SUV, down an embankment off the roadway.

The deputies soon located Zeke nearby, and the baby was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Best was transported to the Bonneville County Jail on Saturday, according to Teton County authorities. He was expected to be arraigned Monday morning, East Idaho News reported.

Brian Randall told People that he was not aware of any conflict between his sister and Best, who he thought was “a normal guy.” That has changed in the days since a family lost two loved ones and an unborn child.

“Sometimes,” Randall said, “maybe you don’t know people.”

Source link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/12/04/idaho-baby-found-dead-amber-alert-father-arrested/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *