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Three FDL kids safe after abduction; jailed suspect identified


FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - Some tense moments for police Monday after a 19-year-old man allegedly assaults his girlfriend in Oshkosh, kidnaps her three children in Fond du Lac, then crashes his vehicle after a chase in Menomonee Falls.

Police say 19-year-old Tou L. Thao of Fond du Lac made his initial appearance in Waukesha County court Tuesday afternoon on charges there.

Authorities say it all began just after 4 p.m. in the 600 block of Leeward Court. Oshkosh police say they were looking into a domestic battery in a car between Thao and his girlfriend. 

Thao sped off, which led Oshkosh police to notify area law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for a man driving a red Toyota Sequoia.

At about the same time, police say they received an abandoned 911 call from a house on block of Hawthorne Drive in Fond du Lac. It was then police found out the suspect from Oshkosh barged into a residence on Hawthorne Drive and grabbed his girlfriend's kids.

“The babysitter attempted to call 911. Apparently the phone was hung up," said Fond du Lac Police Captain Steve Klein. “He had made some comments, you know, I can't get into specifics as to what he had said, but there was concern on our end that these kids were possibly going to be harmed."

That's when police say he put the kids in the car and took off. From that point, Klein says Fond du Lac police tracked Thao's whereabouts and relayed that information to area authorities.

Fond du Lac police were about to activate the Amber Alert System, a statewide child abduction alert system, "when we received word that Menomonee Falls had located the vehicle and there had been a pursuit," Klein said.

Klein says Thao crashed the car with the children - ages 3, 4 and 5 - still inside. Thao then tried to run away. Klein says officers caught Thao after about a mile.

“There was a pursuit. These kids were in the back seat of that car. We're very fortunate that these kids were not injured in this case," Klein said. “We don't know what his intentions were at that time, so we're very fortunate that the children were not seriously injured."

Klein says the department has had previous incidents with Thao in the past. In fact, Thao was scheduled to be in court Tuesday on a drunken driving charge.

Thao is due back in Waukesha County court next week. He is also expected to face kidnapping charges in Fond du Lac. Oshkosh police are also recommending several charges, including battery.

It's not known if or when Thao might be transported back to Fond du Lac County.