Police seek boy taken by his mother

Posted: May 31, 2007

Police were searching yesterday for a 7-year-old boy whose mother abducted him Tuesday from a West Philadelphia elementary school.

Andrew Rankins-Bell was taken from Guion S. Bluford Elementary School at 58th and Media Streets by his mother, Malekah Rankins, 30, about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, police said.

The boy's uncle, Keith Morrison, has legal custody of the child, who suffers from asthma, police said.

Rankins "was forbidden by court order from taking him," said Sgt. Charles Layton of the Southwest Detectives Division. She was stripped of her parental custody pending an emergency hearing scheduled for today in Philadelphia, police said.

School authorities allowed the boy to go with her because they did not know about the court order, which barred her from contact with him because of abuse, police said.

The boy did not have his asthma medicine with him when he was abducted, police said.

Malekah Rankins was last known to be living in Los Angeles, and Morrison did not know she was in Philadelphia, police said.

Rankins last saw the boy in March, when she tried to flee with him, police said.

Police described Andrew as about 4 feet tall, about 70 pounds with brown eyes, brown hair and light-brown skin. He was last seen wearing a red shirt, blue pants, and carrying a Batman Returns book bag.

Malekah Rankins was described as 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 140 pounds with medium-brown skin and long braided hair. Anyone who has seen the boy or his mother is urged to call Southwest Detectives at 215-686-3183.

Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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