Father kidnaps 16-month-old toddler, young mother speaks out

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COOPERSVILLE, Mich. - A woman woke up Monday morning to her estranged husband trying to strangle her before kidnapping their daughter. This comes after a year-long custody battle between the couple.

The alleged victim, 24-year-old Shelby Blehm, said this isn't the first time something like this has happened. In fact, she recently filed a personal protection order against her husband of three years, 34-year-old Joseph Dunn. She said Dunn broke into her home and stood in her doorway before attacking her.

"I was bleeding a lot, it was all over my face," said Blehm. "At some point we fell down on the ground and knocked over my heater."

The young mother was left with visible marks around her neck and bruises on her body sustained from fighting off the intruder. Investigators said the suspect broke in just before 6 a.m. in the 100 block of Main Street in Coopersville.

"Me and my daughter were sleeping in my bed and I heard a loud kind of crash sound," said the alleged victim.

She said the incident was terrifying, trying to call for help but nobody heard her screams.

"He had his arm (like this) over my neck: and his hand on my nose and my mouth, shutting my nose and covering my mouth so I couldn’t breathe," said the alleged victim.

She said their daughter laid there screaming on the bed, watching as Dunn allegedly continued choking the victim before kidnapping their 16-month-old child. The young mother was taken to the hospital as police searched for their daughter.

"I could tell he was drunk, I could smell it on him," said the alleged victim. "So I was concerned about my daughter because he’s also tried to commit suicide several times. I thought maybe he’ll do that whole thing, 'if I can’t have her you can’t have her,' kind of a thing. And maybe commit suicide and take her with him."

Shortly before an amber alert was issued, Kent Co. Deputies found the toddler unharmed at Dunn's home in the 9000 block of N. Division Avenue in Sparta. Dunn is currently being held at the Ottawa Co. jail on charges of home invasion, domestic assault including strangulation, violation of the PPO, and parental kidnapping. Officials said formal charges will likely follow sometime this week.

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