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Mother of Central Texas children abducted by sex offender charged

Mandi Elizabeth Russell was charged with two counts of child endangerment.
Mandi Elizabeth Russell was charged with two counts of child endangerment.(Bosque County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 7:35 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Investigators with the Bosque County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers on Monday arrested Mandi Elizabeth Russell, the mother of Codi and Jessi Lowery, the Central Texas children abducted by a registered sex offender.

Authorities did not elaborate further on Russell’s arrest, but Bosque County Sheriff Trace Hendricks said the woman was charged with two counts of child endangerment. “We will relentlessly pursue those who injure children or place them in harm’s way,” wrote Hendricks in the Facebook post announcing the arrest.

Jessi Marie Lowery, 8, and her brother, Codi Lowery, 7, were abducted by Randall Anthony Thurman, 34, late Friday night. Thurman was killed in a wreck Saturday morning as he attempted to elude authorities.

The sheriff’s office said its investigation started when deputies were called to a residence in Walnut Springs, Texas at about 10:45 p.m. Friday. At that time, Russell reported her two children were missing and suspected of being with Thurman, a relative and a registered sex offender.

At approximately 1:40 a.m. on Saturday, the sheriff’s office learned Cody Lowery had been located at a convenience store along I-35 in Hill County and was in the custody of Hill County deputies and Itasca Police officers.

Officers at the scene reported the boy ran to the convenience store seeking help after he had been bound with clear packing tape wrapped around his throat and arms. The boy told officers that a “Randall” had removed him from a car and wrapped him in tape before fleeing with his sister, Jessi Lowery.

The boy was transported by ambulance to a medical facility for treatment. Authorities issued the Amber Alert for the girl shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday. At the time the alert was issued, the suspect was driving a silver-colored, 2011 Chrysler 200 with Texas license plate number PDJ-3658.

Randall Thurman, 34, a registered sex offender, was killed after his car collided with an...
Randall Thurman, 34, a registered sex offender, was killed after his car collided with an oncoming vehicle at the intersection of FM 191 and Johnson County Road 302.(KWTX Photos)

At approximately 9:15 a.m., a Hill County resident observed a car sitting between a group of trees on his property and recognized it to be the car listed in the Amber Alert. The resident immediately contacted the Hill County Sheriff’s Office.

Hill County deputies observed the vehicle and attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but Randall allegedly fled northbound on Highway 171 toward Cleburne.

After entering Johnson County, pursuing deputies observed the suspect vehicle cross over the center lane of the roadway and continue to travel at high speeds toward an oncoming vehicle.

“Based on the actions of the driver, deputies believe the maneuver to have been intentional,” the Bosque County Sheriff’s Office said.

Thurman’s vehicle collided with the oncoming car - a KIA driven by 85-year-old Maureena Charles Reid, of Burleson, Texas - at the intersection of Highway 171 and Johnson County Road 302.

Thurman and Reid were both killed in the wreck.

Jessi, conscious at the scene, required extraction from the vehicle. The girl was airlifted to a medical facility for emergency treatment, the sheriff’s office said.

A spokesperson with DPS on Monday said the girl remained hospitalized, but did not provide an update on the girl’s condition.

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