Police said Daniel Cleary and his sons were spotted at a Walmart in Jackson, Tenn.
SUWANEE -- On Friday, for the first time in days, Theresa Nash had hope.
The Suwanee woman's two sons -- 9-year-old Benjamin Cleary and his brother Henry, who turns 8 years old on Saturday -- were still missing, presumed kidnapped by their father and the subject of a nationwide search.
But authorities released late Friday afternoon surveillance photos from a Walmart store in Jackson, Tenn. They clearly show the boys and their father leaving the store and at a checkout counter on what police said were Dec. 23 and 24.
Nash struggled for each word while speaking to media members shortly after getting word of the photos, the first concrete evidence since 46-year-old Daniel Cleary did not bring their children as planned.
"I am just so hopeful," Nash said. "And I have not been hopeful until this moment."
The elder Cleary, who lives in Roswell, had reportedly been with the children since Dec. 19 and planned on taking them to the aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn. A nationwide Amber Alert was issued Wednesday after they didn't return to their mother's Suwanee townhome.
Henry and Ben Cleary are second- and third-graders, respectively, at Suwanee's Burnette Elementary. They have no other siblings. Contrary to prior reports, their mother -- the assistant director of academic programs for Emory University's global health department, a friend said -- was never married to their father.
Gwinnett County court records show Daniel Cleary had filed a motion for a modification of child support, which was scheduled to be heard by a judge on Jan. 4.
The photos released Friday showed the two young boys, donning puffy blue winter vests, with their father at the Walmart store in Jackson, Tenn., about two hours west of Nashville.
An emotional Nash said the development was big, but didn't necessarily help confine the search area.
"This is a nationwide search. It can't be focused in any area," she said. "It has to be focused on the whole country. The plea is that people repost on Facebook the Levi's alert and share it broadly. This is how we're able to find the children and bring them home."
A Levi's Call is Georgia's version of the national Amber Alert.
Roswell police Lt. James McGee said late Friday afternoon that several people had called to report seeing Daniel Cleary or his silver 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee (temporary Georgia tag 10742627) "in various places." The department and several other agencies were working to vet those leads and "beat the bushes," he said.
"Hopefully somebody gave us some good information," McGee said.
Ben Cleary is described as approximately 4-foot-8 and 66 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Henry Cleary is about 4-foot-5 and 60 pounds with light brown hair and green eyes.
Both boys are Caucasian. Their father is described as about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.
Anyone with information is urged to call Roswell police at 770-640-4160, Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS, or 911.
Meanwhile, Nash said she was told local and federal authorities are working with law enforcement agencies across the country and "pursuing all of the leads with local law enforcement in all of the different states."
The massive search area is daunting, but Friday's developments were encouraging, the mother said.
"I was beginning to lose hope," Nash said.