WILLARD, Box Elder County — A monthlong search for a missing infant from Montana ended in Utah this week, and law enforcement agencies said it’s all thanks to a cross-state data sharing system.
Michelle Yallup, 29, is accused of leaving a hospital in Anaconda, Montana, with her newborn son after testing positive for methamphetamine. Hospital staff advised her to stay but said if she still chose to leave, she needed to leave the baby.
Yallup had been last seen on June 17. The next day, the Montana Department of Justice issued a missing and endangered person advisory.
On July 17, the Statewide Information and Analysis Center in Utah was contacted by law enforcement in Montana to help with the case. On Monday, the center tracked down a possible location for Yallup.
“We knew the rough area of the suspect. We were able to find out the officers who worked in the area and from that we can send them a private message either via email or private message," said Cody Dunn, a Statewide Information and Analysis Center intelligence analyst.
Willard police located Yallup's vehicle, an orange motor home, at a gas station and arrested the woman.
The endangered child was in good condition, and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services took custody of the infant.
Information from various state and federal agencies around the country is collected and stored in the Statewide Information and Analysis Center database.
There are 77 fusion centers in the U.S. Each state has one, and some states have more than one based on large regional needs. For example, Los Angeles has one, and California has one.
The Utah center became operational in 2008.
By sharing information, law enforcement agencies can collaborate and work together to quickly and efficiently solve cases.
"Based on things that I've seen in my career, we are sharing information now beyond single jurisdictions in ways that we never have before," said Keith Squires, commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety. “To share that information is critical.”
Last year, the fusion centers helped crack more than 7,000 cases, law enforcement officials said.