SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – There was a posting on social media that a child had been “kidnapped.”
The aunt who created the post also sent a picture of the seven-year-old along with the car of the alleged abductor and its license plate.
The child’s stepmom who doesn’t want her name used, said its a custodial issue which began last year.
“The last event started October 31st, a child was taken by his mother and not returned,” said D.C. “This whole year the child has gone to 14-days of school and that’s when we took him. So she’s taken him completely out of school.”
Since then, there’s been numerous police reports filed against the biological mother with Syracuse and Sunset police departments.
Primarily, the concern is with poor living conditions and unsupervised parenting.
The Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) was also notified after one of the three children was found wandering the streets along. Along with the seven-year-old, the stepmom has two other children, a two-year-old and a five-year-old in her custody. Those two younger children are from a different father according to the stepmom.
“They found the child wandering down the street,” she said. (Neighbors) saw burns on his chest. They knew who the child was and brought him back home. Different (police) reports say similar things.”
With little success from police and DCFS, they hired an attorney and got “full custody” of the seven-year-old from a judge in Weber County.
“We got full and sole custody,” she said. “(The biological mother) is only allowed to see him … three hours per month and that has to be supervised and with drug tests provided to us.”
That was in early January but the seven-year-old-child still did not come home because he could not be found.
“After her taking him, we have gone to the house multiple times,” the stepmom said.
The stepmom and the biological father also informed Syracuse and Sunset police that they now had full custody.
But there was another problem.
“They (police) kept telling us we needed to get a writ of assistance basically saying they have a right to go into that,” she said. “The whole process has taken so long that at this point they had been evicted.”
They claimed the child had been kidnapped and was endangered but no one would help them. But it wasn’t enough for Syracuse or Sunset police to issue an Amber Alert or send out a missing persons warning.
In a statement Syracuse police said: “Part of issue is jurisdiction and part of this has come after the fact. We’ve done welfare checks, followed up on information.”
Sunset police never responded to ABC4’s request for comment.
Recently, Syracuse police alerted Pleasant View police when they learned the biological mother and her new husband were living there. But by the time police arrived, the stepmom said they had been evicted again and were gone.
A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety said it’s up to police to issue the amber alert.
“Sometimes you can have cases where it seems like ‘oh man this really seems like this should be an amber alert and the local agency through their investigative process has decided it doesn’t really appear to meet the criteria,” said Joe Dougherty.
He said families do have other options including going to the media to seek the public’s help or as in this case turning to social media.
The stepmom and her family did turn to social media for help.
“I’m talking to people (on social media), because that seems to be the only way I’m able to do anything,” the stepmom said. “(Now) I have about 12-different people many of who I don’t even know, that drive around every day, for a couple of hours to try and locate their vehicle.”
Late Thursday night, the seven-year-old was found and in safe condition. The stepmom said Sunset police received a tip and contacted authorities in Weber County and was returned to his biological father and stepmom.
“The system is broke,” she said. “This can happen to any parent.”
Recently the use of the Amber Alert has come under fire from one lawmaker. In December, a Utah state senator criticized the use of Amber Alerts when a mother took her two children to San Diego without authorization.
Utah Senator Todd Weiler tweeted “Repeat after me: Amber Alerts should not be used for custody disputes between parents.”