BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A man who sparked an AMBER Alert when he took his 9-year-old daughter for a Father’s Day walk and never returned is now facing charges.
AMBER Alerts are very rare and only issued for missing children when there’s fear a child could be in danger. Police believed Samantha Cetola wasn’t safe with her father, 46-year-old Kevin Cetola, prompting an overnight search.
Cetola picked up Samantha from her home in the City of Tonawanda. He doesn’t have custody of his daughter, but because it was Father’s Day, her mother let them go for a walk. By 10 p.m., around seven hours later, the pair hadn’t come back.
Tonawanda City Police Capt. Fredric Foels said, “She said this is totally out of the ordinary for him; he would normally return her after a couple of hours.”
The father lives at a halfway house in Amherst and does have a troubled past.
Capt. Foels said, “He does have a criminal history, he does have numerous previous arrests, but our last dealing with him was January of 2012, for a felony DUI.”
Police say when they searched his room at the halfway house, there were remnants of what could have been a farewell message. That’s when the decided to issued an AMBER Alert.
“Somewhat of a shrine-type of remnants that were on his bed, which raised the bar a little about the concern,” said Capt. Foels.
Authorities used K9 officers, ATV, and the Niagara County Sheriff’s helicopter in the search. Police were able to track Cetola by pinging his cell phone to Kenney Field at Brighton Road and Colvin Boulevard, where it remained stable. This prompted police to canvass the area.
At 3:30 a.m. they found the father and daughter sitting inside Express Mart on the corner of Colvin Boulevard and Highland Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda. Express Mart. Rookie Town of Tonawanda police officer Joseph Gioele found the pair. Cetola had dumped his wallet, cell phone and the contents of his pockets in a donation bin.
“Believe it or not she was in pretty good spirits, she was in good spirits, she didn’t look disheveled or dirty or anything like that,” said Foels.
Samantha was returned to her mother.
Cetola was arraigned in the Town of Tonawanda on one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. he is due back in court on Thursay. Other charges could follow in the City of Tonawanda.
Sources tell News 4 the father told police he was following in God’s path. He was taken for a psychiatric evaluation.