Sheriff's Office

PR #:
Date Issued:
Mar 19, 2024 - 2:15PM

For Immediate Release

Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Helps Return Children to Family

For media inquiries contact:
Sgt. Kristin Vietti
Washoe County Sheriff's Office
Office: 775-328-6336
Cell: 775-895-0027

On Sunday, March 17, 2024, at approximately 3:11 pm, Washoe County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an address in Spanish Springs on a report of two children who had been abducted by their mother.  The two children, ages 7 and 9, were in the custody of other family members who had been granted emergency custody pending a court hearing. 

Deputies obtained information that the children’s biological mother, identified as Sarah Smith, had taken the children against a court order and was headed to California with them.  The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office worked in conjunction with several partnering agencies in the area to locate the children.  Deputies eventually were able to make contact with the mother on the telephone.  She refused to bring the children back or provide her current location.  At approximately 4:20 pm, Officers with the California Highway Patrol were able to locate the vehicle on Interstate 80 near Kingvale and made contact with the children and their mother.   Sarah Smith was booked into the Nevada County Jail without incident and is being held as a fugitive from justice on a kidnapping charge in Nevada. She is awaiting extradition back to Nevada.  

The children were returned to their family unharmed. 

“I commend the tenacity of these deputies in working diligently to secure the safe return of two small children to their family,” Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam said. “I am also deeply appreciative of the collaborative effort law enforcement in our region played in returning these children safely back to our community. Jobs well done across the board.”


The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Darin Balaam is the 27th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.


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