Mom sorry about alert: Woman accused of abducting son apologizes

A mother who took her 1-year-old son from supervised visitation in Columbus over the weekend, generating a statewide Amber Alert, is apologizing for causing people to worry after the child was reported missing.

“I want to apologize. I know what happens in people’s hearts when they think a child is being harmed. I apologize for putting them through that,” Andrea Rhoades said in an interview at The Republic on Tuesday morning. “I want to thank them for caring.”

Rhoades, 43, of Columbus, was held in the Bartholomew County Jail for 48 hours and then released on her own recognizance after being arrested on a preliminary charge of interference with custody, jail officials said.

She was accused of abducting her 1-year-old son, Solomon Rhoades, from a home in the 3300 block of Sycamore Street, her mother’s home, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. That resulted in an Amber Alert being issued at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, indicating police believed the boy was in extreme danger.

Rhoades returned to the Sycamore Street home at 9:15 a.m. Sunday with Solomon, who was unharmed and was subsequently turned over to Child Protective Services, his mother said.

No formal charges have been filed against Rhoades about the incident so far, court records indicate.

The Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing a police report from investigators before making a decision on filing of criminal charges, Prosecutor Bill Nash said.

Since her release from jail, Rhoades said she is forbidden to see her son or to stay at her mother’s home. Instead, Rhoades said she will be residing at property she owns in Jennings County.

In the interview, Rhoades said she had earlier been allowed to have supervised visitation with Solomon at her mother’s home in Columbus, and that her mother had to be present while she and her son were together at the home.

“I just wanted to be alone with him,” Rhoades said of her decision to take Solomon away from the home and away from the city.

Rhoades said she has three other children, ranging in age from 11 to 15, who are all in the custody of her ex-husband.

The mother acknowledged that when left with Solomon in her Chevrolet Blazer, the boy was not wearing clothing, but she said he had clothes for him in her vehicle.

“It has weighed heavily on me to know what people might have been thinking,” she said.

The two went to property near Hartsville where Rhoades said she had lived 25 years ago, and the two spent time outside playing in a creek and walking in the woods.

“He was never in any danger,” Rhoades said.

She decided to return to her mother’s house early Sunday morning and her mother called police when she returned, Rhoades said.

Weeks earlier, Rhoades had released from jail on the county’s probation department pre-trial program for an incident April 21 involving a possible road-rage incident when Solomon was in the vehicle with his mother.

In that incident, a Columbus police officer was sent to check on a driver, later identified as Rhoades, who had an unrestrained child in her vehicle on Marr Road near County Road 450N, police said.

A caller told police that Rhoades ran off the road several times and slammed on her brakes in an attempt to get the caller to crash into her, police said. The caller later told police that Rhoades got out of her SUV on Arnold Street holding the child, police said.

When officers arrived, Rhoades was visibly upset and attempted to get back into her vehicle, pushing an officer’s hands away when he attempted to stop her, police said.

A Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputy took the child from Rhoades, who continued to struggle with the Columbus Police Department officer, police said. She was then taken to the ground and handcuffed, before being taken to Columbus Regional Hospital for a blood test for intoxication, police said.

She was arrested in the April incident on preliminary charges of felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resisting law enforcement and possession of marijuana, jail officials said.

On Tuesday, Rhoades asked the community for forgiveness and asked people to pray for her.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.