ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – They helped rescue little Alisa Maier when she was kidnapped from her Louisiana, Missouri home last summer.
On Friday morning they were honored by the St. Louis office of the FBI.
26-year-old Ashley Gibbs of De Soto, her fiance Kevin McNeely, 21 of Fenton, and Walmart employee Neil Tague were all awarded certificates congratulating them on their “outstanding assistance” in helping to rescue 4-year-old Alisa Maier, who was kidnapped from outside her home in early July.
Gibbs and McNeely, who are now engaged and expecting their first child, saw Alisa wandering around in a daze near a Fenton car-wash.
They’d heard of the well-publicized kidnapping of Alisa but didn’t immediately put two and two together.
“It kind of caught our attention to why this child was wandering around with noone else around her,” McNeely said following the ceremony at FBI headquarters in St. Louis. “It was a little girl, but he (kidnapper Paul Smith, who eventually committed suicide) had her (hair cut) to look like a little boy.”
The couple immediately contacted police, who quickly realized that the child was indeed Alisa Maier.
They traced the new clothing she was wearing to a Walmart in Troy, Missouri, and that’s where Neil Tague became involved.
He works at the Walmart store, but his exact role in Alisa’s rescue was not completely clear.
On the advice of lawyers for Walmart, Tague was not allowed to speak with reporters following the FBI ceremony.
With their sharp eyes and decision to get involved having resulted in Alisa’s rescue and quite possibly saving her life, Ashley Gibbs was asked what it feels like to be a hero.
She waved the question aside.
“I mean, I really don’t like to be called that,” she explained. “Just because I would like to think there’s good enough people that would have done the same thing.”
St. Louis FBI Special Agent in Charge Dennis Baker sees things differently.
He read from a proclamation honoring the trio of rescuers.
“If not for the keen observations of Ashley and Kevin, and the cooperation of Neil, the successful recovery of Alisa may never have occurred,” Baker said, as a roomful of FBI agents applauded their accomplishments.
“It feels good to have participated in identifying and finding her,” Kevin McNeely said.
“It turned out to be a good ending,” Ashley Gibbs added. “You don’t always see that anymore.”
(Copyright KMOX Radio)