A woman who allegedly kidnapped her two daughters from Philadelphia foster care and fled to Florida - where she left the older sibling to fend for herself - was apprehended with her younger daughter yesterday morning.
Tammy Kongkham, 35, and her daughter Kimberly, 8, were recognized in or near a shopping mall in Tamarac, Fla., around 10 a.m. by a code-enforcement officer, police said.
The two were found about 8 miles from Fort Lauderdale, where Kongkham's older daughter, 10-year-old Kelly, was discovered alone and begging in a mall Dec. 4, authorities said.
Kelly told police a fantastic, disturbing tale about living in a 2- to 3-foot-high sand cave underneath a playground set on a Fort Lauderdale beach for weeks with her mother and sister, according to police.
That was before her mother, who was afraid they would be caught, allegedly told Kelly they had to split. Kelly was left alone and stayed in the hollow for a few days, police said, before she came out and made a 3-mile trek to a nearby mall.
Philadelphia Department of Human Services workers traveled to Florida last week to take Kelly into their care.
Tammy Kongkham remains in the custody of the Broward County, Fla., Sheriff's Department at the request of Philadelphia authorities.
Kimberly Kongkham had "evidence of extensive bug bites," just as her sister did when she was found, but otherwise appeared to be in good health, police said.
Fort Lauderdale police were to interview Kongkham and her daughter yesterday afternoon, according to a press release.
DHS will work with Florida authorities to return the child to Philadelphia, police said.
The Kongkham girls were placed in foster care because of their absence from school, according to police. Tammy Kongkham allegedly kidnapped her children Oct. 16, while they were on their way to what would have been their first day of school.