crimesider

Ill. mother and three daughters found safe after going missing on Easter Sunday

From left, clockwise, Stephanie Owens, 42; Madison Owens, 11; twins Nicole and Kristin, 9
Crestwood Police Dept.
Four members of Crestwood family missing, say police
From left, clockwise, Stephanie Owens, 42; Madison Owens, 11; twins Nicole and Kristin, 9
Crestwood Police Dept.

(CBS/WBBM) CRESTWOOD, Ill. - A missing Crestwood, Ill. mother and her three daughters who had not been seen since Easter Sunday have been found safe, police say.

Madison Owens, 11, and her twin sisters, Nicole and Kristin, both 9, and their mother, 42-year-old Stephanie Owens were found in their car at around 10 a.m. this morning in Macomb, about 240 miles southwest of Chicago, according to local news reports.

Authorities said Owens claimed their car had run out of gas and that they were able to return to it only after a good Samaritan gave them $100 and filled up a gas canister, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The girls' father, Dwayne Owens, told NBC Chicago that Stephanie Owens' debit card had been declined. 

Crestwood Police Chief Theresa Neubauer said the family hadn't eaten in days and that Owens told police she didn't know where they'd been, according to the Tribune.

Owen's cell had been shut off since Monday, but reportedly one of her daughters sent a text message to her grandmother saying  "we are not having Easter because God told mommy not to," the paper reported the police as saying.

"Happy Easter," the text message continued, according to police. "But guess what if you don't do Easter you get to see God."

Reportedly, a series of religious themed messages were also exchanged between Stephanie Owens a friend in California. Owens referenced God and the devil and said that something big might happen, the Tribune reported the Crestwood police chief as saying.

According to CBS affiliate WBBM, the Crestwood police and state authorities were expressing genuine concern for the safety of the family and had issued an "endangerered missing" alert.

On Easter Sunday, Owens - described as distraught and depressed - had dinner with a relative and then drove off with her three daughters, according to the station.

Owens left behind a hospital job in Oak Lawn, and last used her credit card in Streator and Canton on Wednesday.

The car the family was believed to be driving, 1996 silver Lexus four-door with Illinois license plate L32184, was reported as being seen in Abdingdon, 50 miles east of Iowa, as well as in Streator and in Canton near Peoria, according to police

The mother was reportedly taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and the children are in protective custody, according to the Tribune.