Sunnyside woman’s baby stolen by sex offender she met on dating app, court docs say

Sunnyside woman’s baby stolen by sex offender she met on dating app, court docs say
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SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — A registered sex offender is accused of kidnapping a Sunnyside woman’s baby after meeting her through a dating app, according to a police report.

Police said the woman invited Thomas Lanier, 24, to hang out at her apartment on South 11th and Ida Belle streets on Friday after meeting him on the dating app “MeetMe.” Her young son and daughter were there sleeping when he came over.

She said they drank vodka, had sex for a few minutes, then Lanier stopped and told her to shower because he “wanted her to be clean,” according to court records. The woman said she thought it was strange, but Lanier convinced her.

Lanier reportedly said he was going to get body wash from his truck before joining her.

A short time later, the woman got out of the shower, wrapped herself in a towel and saw that Lanier had gotten dressed. She checked her 1-year-old daughter’s playpen and saw that she was missing. Her son was still asleep.

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The woman rushed outside in her towel and started yelling for help. She said she heard her baby crying, so she went toward the noise and saw Lanier walking down 11th Street with her baby.

When the woman approached Lanier, he allegedly told her that someone tried to steal the baby, then gave the child back to her. She told Lanier to leave, but instead he walked behind her, so the woman started yelling again for help, court records said.

That’s when Lanier allegedly wrapped his arm around her neck and told her he would kill her if she didn’t stay quiet.

A neighbor came out and the woman said to call police. The suspect left in his truck, leaving behind his cell phone, underwear and a blue shirt, records said.

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Police said they arrested Lanier when he returned for his belongings.

He was booked at the Yakima County Jail on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping and felony harassment. Police said he is a registered sex offender out of Oregon. Records show he was convicted of multiple sex crimes including sodomy and sexual abuse.

During an interview with police, Lanier said the woman asked him to hold her baby while she showered. While he was holding the baby, he said he heard someone inside the apartment say he was going to get robbed.

He claims that he ran outside to his truck with the baby before realizing the voice he heard was the woman. He denied committing a crime and accused the woman of being involved in the alleged robbery attempt.