Three missing children found safe in Cordova

Cordova Police Department and Fire Department offices as seen on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Three children reported missing in Seward have been found safe in Cordova, said a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers.

Slate Erickson, 4, Jedidiah “Fox” Erickson, 7, and Pepper Erickson, 9, were wrongfully removed from a Seward foster home on Monday, Aug. 5, according to a report from the Alaska State Troopers. The children were taken by a woman who identified herself as a representative of the Office of Children’s Services. The children’s foster parents recognized the name given by the woman as that of an individual authorized to pick up the children. It was later confirmed that the woman who had picked up the children had misidentified herself and was not an OCS representative.

The children’s biological mother, Melissa Salgado, 40, of Seward, was also found to be missing.

On the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 9, the Cordova Police Department received a tip that the children had been sighted in Cordova, Police Chief Michael Hicks said. After searching the area with the help of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, officers sighted the Erickson children and Salgado walking along the street. Salgado was cooperative when taken into custody, Hicks said.

“It all went pretty smoothly,” Hicks said. “When we get these kinds of cases, we all think the worst and hope for the best, and this one was a win… It’s the best possible way it could have ended.”

Salgado was charged with second-degree custodial interference along with Jeffrey Erickson, 46, of Seward.

The rapid success of the search can be attributed to use of the Nixle service, which allows citizens to receive safety, traffic and crime alerts on their phones, said Megan Peters, communications director for the Alaska State Troopers.

“Directly because of those Nixles, we got two tips that led us to find the kids and make sure they were safe, and to get the mom into custody,” Peters said. “It shows how valuable it can be to have that information in front of you.”

Investigations are ongoing and some aspects of the case remain unexplained, Peters said.