A 27-year-old mother has been arrested for taking her 8-year-old daughter out of her school in Jefferson City, Missouri, without notifying the school or the girl's father, with whom the girl lives. The child's 19-year-old aunt was also arrested. The two women were charged with parental kidnapping.
Local police say that there is no official custody agreement between the two parents. There was reportedly a child protection order against the mother, but that was dismissed. The girl has reportedly lived with her father in Missouri for two years. Authorities say the girl's mother lives in Texas and has not seen her daughter in the past two years. However, they believe the woman was staying with her mother in St. Louis.
According to law enforcement, they didn't become aware that the third-grader was missing until around 3:30 p.m., when she did not show up to take a van to day care after school. Surveillance video at the school allegedly showed the aunt entering the school through a back door and taking her to a waiting vehicle. The girl reportedly began struggling when she caught sight of her mother.
After issuing an endangered person advisory, authorities determined that the child had been taken to St. Louis. They say that a woman who was reportedly the grandmother turned the girl over to police at 1 a.m. the following morning, and she was later reunited with her father. As one police official said, "Whether or not there are custody issues, our priority is to find the child and make sure they are safe."
Fortunately, most child custody disputes do not escalate to the level of abduction. However, it is always best for parents to have a court-ordered custody agreement in place. That can help provide some sense of stability and predictability for children when their parents are no longer together. With a court-ordered agreement, both parents have a chance to work out any issues they have with their children's living arrangements in court. Putting children through the trauma of taking them away from a custodial parent without that parent's knowledge or permission is never the solution.
Source: News Tribune, "Two charged with kidnapping JC child" No author given, Apr. 18, 2014