LITTLE ROCK, AR – A Missouri woman is behind bars in Pulaski County accused of trying to steal the identity of a missing child.
6-year-old Morgan Nick disappeared from a baseball park in Alma in 1995. Arkansas named its missing child alerts after her.
Her mother, Colleen Nick, says she never gave up hope of finding her daughter. When Arkansas State Police told Colleen someone tried to obtain Morgan's birth certificate, Colleen hoped it was actually her daughter. Instead, police say 24-year-old Tonya Renee Smith tried to steal Morgan's identity for herself.
It's been 17 years since Colleen Nick saw her daughter Morgan try to catch fireflies at a baseball park in Alma. The missing person case remains open, and investigators pursue new leads whenever they develop. That's why when Smith tried to claim Nick's identity for herself, an alert went off for law enforcement.
Colleen Nick says she's equally relieved and angry. "I'm relieved to know who this is to determine whether or not it is Morgan. I'm really angry someone would try to take the very last thing Morgan has which is her identity."
Arkansas State Police say Smith tried to place an order through VitalCheck, an internet based company that supplies certified copies of vital documents. Investigators say Smith tried to get Morgan Nick's birth certificate for herself.
Colleen Nick says, "It's a foolish crime committed by a foolish person. That's the lowest of the low to try to steal the identity of a missing child."
Police located Smith near Branson, Missouri. She's now in the Pulaski County Jail facing felony computer theft charges. Her bond has been set at $200,000.
Colleen Nick says she's relieved law enforcement resolved this, but says she remains focused on solving the mystery of Morgan's disappearance. "We believe we will find her someday, and everyday could be the day, so we're just waiting it out."
Initially investigators weren't sure whether it was the real Morgan Nick trying to obtain her own birth certificate, or perhaps her abductor, or someone fraudulently trying to steal Nick's identity.
Arkansas State Police say Smith is a Louisiana State Prison probation violator. Her last known address is in Hollister, Missouri near Branson where police caught up with her. State Police won't comment any further saying this is a pending criminal investigation.