A Philadelphia woman accused of kidnapping her two daughters and forcing them to live with her in a squalid Florida sand pit was arrested today, authorities said.
Both children are safe. One was found with her mother this morning, while the other was found earlier this month begging for food at a Fort Lauderdale shopping mall.
Tammy Kongkham, 35, was spotted in the area of another shopping center near Fort Lauderdale by a code enforcement officer who recognized her from photographs distributed by authorities.
Broward County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene and took Kongkham and her 8-year-old daughter, Kimberly, into custody.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department said the mother and daughter were found in "good condition." The case is being investigated by the FBI, and federal charges are pending, police said.
Numerous tipsters reported seeing Kongkham throughout Broward County, including yesterday evening at a flea market in Pompano Beach, police said.
Authorities were concerned for the child because of "the mother's instability," police said.
Kongkham's 10-year-old daughter, Kelley, was found Dec. 4 at the Galleria Mall, disheveled and covered with bug bites. She later told investigators she had been living with her mother and sister in an ant-infested hole dug in sand below playground equipment.
They lived on water, coconuts and food scavenged from the trash. The mother reportedly realized she could not care for both daughters and left the 10-year-old to fend for herself.
The children had lived with Kongkham after a divorce, but were placed in foster care because she was not sending them to school in Philadelphia, a city spokeswoman said.
On Oct. 16, the girls were about to enter Juniata Park Academy when Kongkham, disguised in a blond wig, took her children. They were last seen boarding a Greyhound bus in Chinatown.