CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A father was arrested and charged after Virginia State Police issued an AMBER Alert for a Chesterfield toddler believed to be in "extreme danger."
Cayden Thomas Merchant, 3, was safely located thanks to immediate tips that came in following the AMBER Alert activation, according to police.
The child was believed to be in the custody of his biological father, James Benjamin King, according to his mother Carrie Merchant.
Merchant said King is not listed on the boy's birth certificate.
The separated couple had a verbal agreement that King could watch the toddler over the weekend.
"He was supposed to bring [Cayden] back Monday," Merchant said. "We got into an altercation about some gas money and I didn't have the money at the time."
Merchant claimed King sped off with her son headed toward Petersburg.
"Basically he was holding my son for ransom," Merchant said.
Police issued the AMBER Alert at about 10:45 p.m. Monday.
Cayden was located less than an hour later.
“King, 40, was arrested in the 1700 block of Ferndale Avenue in the City of Petersburg without incident,” according to police spokesperson. “King has been charged with abduction and is currently being held in the Chesterfield County Jail.”
Prior to his return, Cayden was last seen at 6:30 p.m. Monday on Germont Ave in North Chesterfield, according to police.
"Words can't describe the pain I felt last night not knowing whether or not you're gonna see your kid again," Merchant explained with a tear in her eye.
King appeared for an arraignment via video conference in the Chesterfield County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Tuesday morning.