People all over the country were looking for them and for the two sisters they were accused of kidnapping, but the men police say kidnapped them seemed oblivious.
They brought the girls to a charity dinner attended by dozens, as their pictures flashed on television. They strolled down the busiest street of a crowded city. Then they took the kids swimming. At Daytona Beach. During spring break.
Teresa Hainer, 9, and Jessica Hainer, 6, both wide-eyed with relief when rescued by police, were en route late Tuesday to a reunion with their family in Galesburg, Mich.
Neither was harmed, police said. "It's the happiest news we ever had," said Olivia Hainer, the girls' grandmother.
Authorities filed federal kidnapping charges against Ricky Geer, 19, and brothers Ron Stafford, 21, and Lee Stafford, 17.
The three Michigan residents were arrested in a Daytona Beach gift shop as they bought a 99-cent bag of Chester's Butter Popcorn. They offered no resistance.
The elder Stafford spent three years in a sex-offender program, but police said the girls were not assaulted.
Police said the Stafford brothers knew the girls' father, but no one shared any hint of a motive.
Loh Szen Leung, a student who encountered the group in Daytona Beach, said the men claimed that Ron Stafford was the girls' father.
The affair began Friday in Galesburg, a quiet town about 120 miles west of Detroit, when the sisters stepped off their school bus 3 miles from their home. The driver saw them get into a car with three men.
After the girls disappeared, the FBI issued a nationwide alert, broadcasting pictures of the men and the children and a description of a 1980 Pontiac station wagon that carried them.
An off-duty University of Florida officer spotted the group in Gainesville on Sunday, but he only later learned of the kidnapping.
Late Monday, college evangelists trying to recruit spring breakers in Daytona Beach told police that they met the five on the beach.
The students invited the five to a free evangelical dinner. Then late Monday, while watching the Academy Awards, the students saw a news brief about the girls. They called police.
Officers spotted the five Tuesday morning on Atlantic Boulevard, the city's main artery, and trailed them into Daytona 2000, a store specializing in racing souvenirs.
One officer made the arrest. Another scooped up the girls.
"It was smooth," shop owner Gilbert Myara said. "It was over in 15, 30 seconds."