Man accused of kidnapping 1-year-old girl from McMinn County apartment

Dillon Clayton (Courtesy: WATE/McMinn County Sheriff's Department)

ATHENS, Tenn. (WATE) – A man is in the McMinn County jail after police say he kidnapped a 1-year-old girl while she was sleeping.

Police in Athens, Tennessee, say they were called to Westwood Heights Apartments around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday morning. When they arrived, witnesses told them a man, identified as Dillon Clayton, used a rock to smash a window in their apartment, then struck a parked vehicle with a rock.

Witnesses told police Clayton, 23, then went into a nearby apartment where a man and his 1-year-old child were sleeping. Police say Clayton, who is from Niota, took the child from her bed and left the house with her.

He reportedly told witnesses it wasn’t safe for her to be there and that he was taking her to the helicopter landing pad at Starr Regional Hospital.

Police went to the landing pad where they began searching for the child. While they were looking for her, they were told a man had taken a child to a nurse at the hospital.

Once officers determined it was the same child, they began looking for Clayton. A short time later, Clayton flagged an officer down in front of the hospital asking for a ride. He was arrested and taken to the McMinn County Jail.

“It should go without saying that this type of behavior can’t be tolerated in our community,” said Chief Clifton Couch of the Athens Police Department. “We are all thankful that this child was able to be located quickly. I applaud our officers and the staff at the hospital for handling this situation so professionally.”

Clayton is being held at the jail on a kidnapping charge. His bond is set at $15,000.