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Missouri school suspicions led police to alleged child abductor

Defendants who remove a child from the care of a custodial parent may feel their reasons for doing so outweigh the impersonal limits of the law. Taking a child, even with good intent, is a felony.

The public has not been told why a grandmother allegedly abducted her grandson in 2000 and fled. Livingston County, Missouri, officials said the 60-year-old woman spent almost 13 years running from authorities, after taking the boy from his parent's Florida home.

Missouri investigators said they never knew the boy was being sought. Nothing ever showed up in FBI reports or a federal database to tell police to be on the lookout for the child, despite claims by the boy's father that he had reported his son missing.

A Livingston County school employee became suspicious of the child's custody when the grandmother claimed the boy was her son during enrollment. The child and his grandmother moved to seven different Missouri locations over 11 years.

The father told police he suspected from the beginning the grandmother was the abductor. A family-hired detective traced the fleeing pair to Putnam County early last month. A visit by police to the grandmother's residence apparently prompted an immediate move to Iowa, then back to Missouri's Livingston County.

The woman was arrested and jailed in Pattonsburg to await a hearing. The boy was released to his father, after the man produced biological proof of parenthood. The child's mother, never married to the boy's father, explained to Missouri officials that she did not have child custody and did not know who did.

All felony charges are serious matters that can result in harsh penalties like a lengthy loss of freedom and thousands of dollars in fines. Strong defense strategies are invaluable, since consequences for convictions are severe, even for Class D felonies like child abduction, a low-rung offense compared to Class A felonies like murder charges.

Source: stlouis.cbslocal.com, "Woman Abducted Grandson in 2000, Hid Him in Several Missouri Towns" Maria Sudekum, Sep. 25, 2013

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