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Young heart patient taken from hospital found safe

Associated Press Modified: April 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm •  Published: April 25, 2012

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A father kidnapped his young son from a St. Louis hospital with precious little of the medicine the boy requires for his failing heart, then called and sent text messages taunting his estranged wife about the abduction, authorities said Wednesday.

Five-year-old Porter Stone was found with his father and paternal grandmother around 3 a.m. Wednesday in Alsip, Ill., near Chicago. The child, who is on a heart transplant list, was OK despite the grave medical condition that requires intravenous medication. He taken to a hospital for observation.

"All indications are he was doing well," said Alsip police Lt. Scott Zablotny. It wasn't clear if Porter was still hospitalized later Wednesday. Authorities, citing safety concerns, declined to say where he was.

The boy's father, Jeffrey Stone, 33; Stone's mother, Rhonda Marie Matthews, 59; and Stone's sister, Heather Minton, 37, were arrested when police stormed into a room at the Baymont Hotel in Alsip, working off a tip generated by a missing child alert. It wasn't clear why the family was in the Chicago area.

St. Louis prosecutors charged Stone and Matthews with kidnapping, interfering with custody and endangering the welfare of a child. No charges have been filed against Minton.

Stone and Matthews were jailed in Alsip on $1 million bond. It wasn't clear when they would face extradition to Missouri, and it wasn't clear if either had an attorney.

Porter's ordeal began earlier this year when he developed flu-like symptoms that continued to worsen. Doctors eventually diagnosed him with dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged and can no longer pump blood efficiently.

The condition worsened to the point that doctors at St. Louis Children's Hospital put him on a heart transplant list.

Court records show Jeffrey and Tiffany Stone, 32, are getting a divorce and she has physical custody of Porter. Still, both parents accompanied Porter when he arrived at the hospital Friday to begin evaluations for a transplant. He was discharged at 3:50 p.m. Monday.

Hospital spokeswoman Jackie Ferman-Grothe said Jeffrey Stone took the boy with him, purportedly to get a prescription filled inside the hospital, while the mother was getting the car. When father and son didn't return, the mother contacted police. Hospital officials said Porter was wearing the small backpack where he keeps his IV material, but he had only enough medication for a day or two.

Jeffrey Stone called and texted his estranged wife several times to taunt her, St. Louis police officer Tracy Cole wrote in a probable cause statement. He called Tiffany Stone names, told her where he had their son and refused to let her speak to the boy, Cole said.

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