Paducah, KY – An alert waitress was able to help police save a baby from her abusers by posting a photo of the little girl’s family on social media.
Olive Garden waitress Jordan Cooper said she was recently serving a couple and their two young children, when she realized she was looking into the eyes of an abused toddler, WPSD reported.
“I first walked around to the baby,” she recounted. “She looked at me with a face that said ‘help.’”
The little girl, who Cooper estimated to be between one and two years old, had been severely “beaten in the face,” she later explained in a Facebook post.
“Her face was black and blue all over,” she wrote.
“I can’t even describe to you how bad she looked, and how and why nobody noticed it,” she told WPSD.
In addition to the obvious bruising, the girl’s father “was force feeding her food down her throat and grabbing her by her shirt and getting in her face,” Cooper said in the Facebook post. “He kept taking her to the bathroom when she cried and acting very aggressive towards her.”
Cooper, who is currently pregnant, said she was so disturbed by what was occurring, she asked a coworker to handle the family’s table instead, WPSD reported.
Then, she enlisted the help of customers at a nearby table, and asked them to pose for a photo so she could capture a picture of the family in the background.
“I had slid them my number, and they sent [the photos] to me as soon as they walked out the door,” Cooper said of the helpful customers.
Meanwhile, the couple with the baby started to become suspicious, and packed up to leave the restaurant, according to Cooper.
“As they were leaving they ran out the door throwing her into the car and taking off after they noticed I was watching them,” she wrote in the Facebook post.
Cooper jotted down their license plate number, then notified police about what had occurred, WPSD reported.
Next, she turned to social media for help finding the little girl.
Along with her post, Cooper shared the photo she took of the family from inside the restaurant, as well as their license plate information.
The alert was shared over 49,000 times, WPSD reported.
One of the people who saw Cooper’s post was Metropolis, Illinois 911 Dispatcher Aaron Caldwell.
“I got everything so I could run him and find [out] who he was,” Caldwell explained. “I even went further into it through social media to find his girlfriend, who lived in Pulaski, Illinois.”
Caldwell contacted the Paris Police Department in Tennessee and law enforcement in Pulaski, and provided then with the information Cooper obtained.
Twenty minutes later, the Paris Police Department contacted Caldwell and let him know that officers were able to locate the family.
The children were removed from the home and placed with child protective services.
Jessica Woodworth, 36, and Mark Lee Pierce, 33, were both booked into the Henry County Jail on charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect, The Paris Post-Intelligencer reported.
Their bonds have been set at $200,000.
The couple’s next court appearance has been scheduled for March 14.
Cooper said that she is relieved the little girl is safe and that her abusers have been apprehended.
“I’m so glad that I did [something,] because she could still be getting hands put on her,” she told WPSD.
"The baby is found and the piece of s--t parents are in custody," she wrote in a follow-up Facebook post on Monday. "My heart can now be at rest. Thank you to everyone who helped me find these terrible people!"