By Ed Brock
Two Conley children are back safe in their mother's arms after being kidnapped by one of the children's father who police say shot their grandfather and raped their mother.
Terrence McDowell, 27, of Riverdale took the children, his daughter 4-year-old Faith McDowell and her half brother 5-year-old Jaquan Wright, early Tuesday morning after raping their mother and shooting their grandfather, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said.
An Amber Alert was issued for the missing children but by Tuesday afternoon they were found in good condition at Terrence McDowell's sister's house in Greensboro, N.C. McDowell turned himself in to federal authorities in Greensboro around 5:50 p.m.
The children were on a Delta Air Lines flight that arrived late Tuesday night at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Turner said.
Around 3 a.m. Tuesday McDowell went to the house where his 20-year-old ex-girlfriend, Crystal Wright, who is the mother of the children, lives with her 64-year-old father, the father's girlfriend and the children. Turner said Wright answered the door and McDowell pushed his way into the house, took her to her room and sexually assaulted her.
He was armed with a 9mm handgun, Turner said.
"He was in (Wright's room) for a while ... several hours," Turner said.
Around 6 a.m. McDowell heard a noise in the bathroom and took Wright to the bathroom where they discovered the father's girlfriend. McDowell took both women into the father's room where he shot the father, who was asleep, eight times in the face and upper torso.
"At that time (Wright) fled," Turner said.
Wright ran to a neighbor's house to call for help. At some point McDowell took the children, put them in his ex-girlfriend's 1998 green Kia Sophia and drove off.
Wright's father's name was not released by authorities.
The father was taken by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital where he remained in critical condition as of Tuesday evening. Turner said he did not know when the children would be returned to their mother.
McDowell had previously lived in the house where the incident occurred but had been thrown out a few months ago. He supposedly came to the house on Sunday and fought with Wright, hitting her and throwing a phone through the window.
Wright went to a hearing Monday to seek some kind of warrant against McDowell, Turner said, but he didn't know the details of what kind of warrant she was seeking.
Despite Tuesday's violence, 66-year-old Lindsey Jennings, a relative by marriage of the man who was shot, said he didn't think the children were ever in danger.
"(McDowell) is crazy about those kids," Jennings said. "I just feel sorry for the whole family."
The children's grandfather was a nice guy who "would do anything for anybody," Jennings said. He recently retired as a custodian with Clayton County Public Schools.
Clayton County schools spokesman Camille Barbee Olmstead described him as "highly thoughtful, easy going, an extremely hard worker."
"He was the type of person who would come in very early in the morning and put in more hours than was required of him," Olmstead said.
McDowell will be charged with rape, burglary, aggravated sodomy, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping and theft by taking a motor vehicle. Turner said he didn't know when McDowell may be returned to Clayton County but it could be within the next day or two if he doesn't fight extradition.
"The main concern is reuniting the children with their mother," Turner said.