UPDATE: Baby found, woman still missing as investigation continues

Local News
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Officials in LaSalle County need your help finding a missing woman following a crash Saturday night.

A male suspect, identified as Clarence Merritte, reportedly rear-ended the victim’s car multiple times, running her off the road. He then took the female victim, identified as Kayla Stratton, and her 11 month old baby from the car, forcing them into his. His vehicle was found abandoned several blocks from the crash. The suspect and victim know each other; the baby is their child.

On Monday morning the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the baby was located. A friend of Kayla Stratton had reportedly found the baby outside her residence and she notified Streator Police. Police called the Department of Children and Family Services to assist in the legal transfer of custody of the child. The baby was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital for a primary health evaluation. The child’s condition remains unclear.

The Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday morning the search is still on for Kayla Stratton and Clarence Merritte. According to authorities, information developed during the investigation has allowed States Attorney, Karen Donnelly, and her staff to issue an arrest warrant for Merritte for Unlawful Restraint, Driving While License Revoked, Domestic Battery, and Aggravated Assault.

The LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Streator Police Department and the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigations division to investigate. They say more information will be released as soon as it becomes available.

If you have any information, call the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office at (815) 433-2161.

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