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Four children believed to have been kidnapped by their father in Illinois were found safe in Spanish Fork Canyon.

On June 5, at about 11:40 AM, police with the Ottawa, Illinois Police Department contacted the Utah County Sheriff's Office requesting assistance in locating three children kidnapped from Illinois and believed to be in the mountains near Spanish Fork. The children, a girl, age 4, and two boys, ages 5 and 6, were reported to be with their father, Clay R. Taylor, age 43. The children are in the custody of the state of Illinois and their father left the state with them. Ottawa police reported that the children were in danger while with their father.

Seven deputies and a member of the Utah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue responded to the area of Spanish Fork Canyon to look for the suspect and the children. The Search and Rescue member used his helicopter to assist in this search. The only information deputies had was that the suspect might be driving an Isuzu SUV.

Those involved in the search covered a large and remote area of Spanish Fork Canyon. At about 3:25 PM a deputy found an SUV matching the description of the one they were looking for in the Ray's Valley area. This area is near the end of the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon. After other deputies arrived in the area they made contact with the individuals near the SUV.

Deputies found the children they were looking for with a woman. The woman is a friend of Clay Taylor but he was not at the camp. The children were found at about 3:50 PM. Deputies continued searching for Taylor. At about 4:45 PM a deputy located a man matching the description, in clothing and appearance, of Taylor. Taylor gave deputies a different name but they determined he was, in fact, Clay Taylor, the man being sought by Ottawa, Illinois police.

Deputies contacted police in Ottawa and reported they had Taylor in custody. Police in Ottawa told deputies they did not want Taylor held. The children are now in the custody of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services pending their return to Illinois. Taylor was issued a citation for providing false personal information to a law enforcement officer. He was released pending a court appearance at the Utah County Justice Court.

For questions contact Sergeant Spencer Cannon, Public Information Officer, Utah County Sheriff's Office. (801)404-1912