USA: 3 years after kids vanish, Md. mother wants her charges dropped

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WASHINGTON — Almost three years after Catherine Hoggle’s two young children disappeared, her lawyer has asked a Montgomery County judge to dismiss the three misdemeanor charges against her Thursday.

Hoggle is the last known person to see 3-year-old Sarah and 2-year-old Jacob Hoggle, Sept. 7, 2014. She told conflicting stories to the children’s father and detectives about where the children were.

Since January 2015, after being ruled incompetent to stand trial, Hoggle has been undergoing treatment at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, the state psychiatric hospital. According to her attorney and the children’s father, she has a history of mental health issues, including paranoia and schizophrenia.

During a competency hearing Thursday, Hoggle’s attorney, David Felsen told District Court Judge Sherri Koch he filed a motion to have the charges against his client dismissed.

WTOP was the first to report that Hoggle would seek to get the charges dismissed Thursday.

Hoggle is charged with parental abduction, neglect, and hindering or obstructing the investigation — all misdemeanors.

Felsen said under Maryland statutes, if a defendant is deemed incompetent, misdemeanors or non-violent crimes must be dismissed after three years.

The final of Hoggle’s three misdemeanors was filed Sept. 15, 2014.

Prosecutors with Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office believe Hoggle murdered her two children, and have argued she is feigning mental illness to avoid trial.

Aware of the deadline, prosecutors requested Thursday’s hearing to review the most recent evaluation from doctors at Perkins.

In court, the judge said Hoggle’s treatment team found she remains unable to assist in her own defense, even though they believe she can be restored to competency.

The judge set a Sept. 15 hearing to argue Felsen’s motion.

Outside the courthouse, the children’s father, Troy Turner, said prosecutors have told him they have enough evidence to indict Hoggle for murder, but she has not been charged with that crime.

“My understanding is we’re going to go forward with homicide charges, so it’s not like she’s gonna walk on the 15th,” Turner said.

Turner said prosecutors “feel like they have a strong case, even without bodies.”

Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, “could neither confirm nor deny” prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury to indict Hoggle on murder charges.

Prosecutors and police have never disclosed whether they have gathered any evidence suggesting Hoggle killed her children. Hoggle has told psychiatrists her children are safe.

“There is no allegation that any harm has come to either child,” wrote Felsen in his motion. “The allegations center around the police inability to confirm the whereabouts of Jacob and Sarah.”

Hoggle has attempted to escape from Perkins several times during her confinement, according to prosecutors.

Although it would be theoretically possible for Hoggle to walk free if the District Court Judge dismissed the current misdemeanors against her, prosecutors would almost certainly file other misdemeanors or felony charges to keep her in custody, as they try to determine the fate of the children.

“It is unjust to continue these prosecutions,” wrote Felsen. “These three cases should be dismissed.”

Even if misdemeanor criminal charges are dropped, if a judge believes Hoggle is still a danger to herself or others, she could be kept at Perkins under a civil commitment.


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Parents who abduct children to foreign land may be jailed

October 18, 2016


NEW DELHI: Parents who forcibly take their children to a foreign land following a marital discord can be jailed for a year, if Law Commission has its way.


In a proposed draft law on ‘parental abduction’, the Commission, which advises the government on legal reform, has said, “When such a kind of diverse family unit breaks down, children (sometimes babies) suffer, as they are dragged into international legal battle between their parents”.

The panel, which had already examined the issue of parental adbuction in 2009, has rewritten the draft bill prepared by the Women and Child Development Ministry after the Punjab and Haryana High Court in February asked it to examine “multiple issues involved in inter-country, inter-parental child removal amongst families”.

Inter-spousal child removal, it noted, can be termed as most unfortunate as the children are abducted by their own parents to India or to other foreign jurisdiction in violation of court orders.

The law panel said whoever wrongfully removes or retains a child either himself or through other person from the custody of a parent can be imprisoned for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to Rs 10,000 or with both.

For those who wilfully misrepresent facts or conceal information related to the location of the child will be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to Rs 5,000 or with both, it has recommended.

The draft bill has also proposed setting up of a central authority to discover the whereabouts of a child who has been wrongfully removed. It will also prevent further harm to any such child and secure his or her voluntary return to the habitual residence.

It said the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, came into force on December 1, 1983 and it would be necessary to implement it in so far as they relate to an expeditious return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained in violation of the custody rights or access rights.

“In such an eventuality, the child is taken to a state with a different legal system, culture and language. The child loses contact with the other parent and is transplanted in an entirely different society having different traditions and norms of life,” the report submitted to the government today said. More than three crore Indians live in foreign countries, having cross-border matrimonial relationships.

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Virginia man convicted in Vermont same-sex kidnap case

September 30, 2016


A Virginia businessman has been found guilty of international parental kidnapping after getting involved in a Vermont same-sex couple’s child custody fight.


A Virginia businessman was convicted Thursday of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy for helping a mother take her daughter out of the country to avoid losing custody to her former partner.

A federal jury in Buffalo returned the verdict against Philip Zodhiates, of Waynesboro, on Thursday after hearing during a weeklong trial how he had driven Lisa Miller and 7-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins from Virginia to the Canadian border in 2009 so they could fly from Toronto to Nicaragua, and had helped with their living arrangements in the Central American nation.

Neither Miller nor Isabella, now 14, have been seen in the United States since.

Lawyers for Zodhiates, the owner of a direct mail business that serves conservative Christian groups, denied that he was trying to obstruct the other mother’s parental rights by helping Miller, who became an evangelical Christian after dissolving her civil union with Janet Jenkins in Vermont.

Miller, who gave birth to Isabella during the civil union, defied court orders granting Jenkins visitation and left the country shortly before a court shifted custody to Jenkins, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Van de Graaf said.

Zodhiates, the prosecutor said, enlisted the help of a number of Mennonites in the United States and Nicaragua in arranging Miller’s trip and a place to stay.

Miller also is charged with international parental kidnapping and conspiracy and is considered a fugitive.

A third defendant, Timothy Miller, recently was arrested after being deported by Nicaragua, U.S. Attorney William Hochul’s office said Thursday.

A fourth defendant, Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite pastor, was convicted of international parental kidnapping in Vermont in 2012.

None of the Millers are related.

Kenneth Miller, of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, is serving a 27-month prison sentence.

Zodhiates faces up to eight years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 30.

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Child custody in UAE: Big battles over children

February 24, 2016


DUBAI: The mother of a 14-year-old girl is worried sick. Since her daughter is 13-plus, she does not have automatic custody or any guardianship rights over her in the UAE. But the father, who has these rights, has an alcohol problem and poses a serious risk to the girl’s safety.


The daughter has even expressed fears about his violent outbursts when she is around. The mother, who sought legal advice to find a way out, has been advised to make an application to the court so she can take care of her daughter.

In another case, a non-Muslim mother has threatened her husband that she will take their only daughter out of the UAE. Denying him his right of guardianship over the girl, she is set to leave the country without his consent. The father, who holds the child’s passport, also availed the services of a legal consultant to make an urgent application to the court to place a travel ban on his daughter so she cannot exit the country with her mother.

Ugly battles

In a shocking trend, instances where children are caught in ugly battles for custody and guardianship are becoming increasingly common in the UAE, claim legal experts. But many of them, they add, are avoidable as they result from lack of awareness about the laws of the land and the failure to take timely legal recourse.

According to Tina Thapar of Al Midfa & Associates Advocates and Legal Consultants, which deals with a number of such cases in the Dubai Courts, issues of child custody and guardianship come to the fore when the parents seek divorce as there is no concept of separation in the UAE.

“Custody and guardianship of a child are defined by Federal Law No (28) of 2005 concerning Personal Status. The biological mother of the child is the custodian and the father the guardian (unless there is a court order appointing someone else as custodian or guardian). Custody means day-to-day upkeep and taking care of the child, which is usually granted to the mother without interfering with the right of guardianship awarded to the father at all times since he is responsible for providing for the child financially, morally and physically.”

Nita Maru, managing partner and solicitor, TWS Legal Consultants, said: “The courts here will always act in the best interests of a child. Custody and guardianship are two separate issues which must be addressed individually as parents do not share equal responsibilities for a child in the UAE, as compared to, say, England.”

She said she was recently approached by a woman who was acting as the mother of a child who was not biologically hers, but her husband’s from a previous marriage. “Although she wanted full rights of custody and guardianship over the child, she was advised that in a divorce in Dubai, she would not have such rights since she was not the biological mother of the child. A woman in this situation actually carries no rights to the child, even before divorce, whilst the couple is married.”

Claiming custody can be a tricky matter.

Thapar said Article 156 of the Personal Status Law provides that women’s custody of the children ends when a boy reaches the age of 11 and when a girl turns 13. The father being the guardian can claim the custody of the male child when he reaches the age of 11 and the female child when she reaches the age of 13.

“The mother also has the right to claim the extension of the custody period until the boy finishes his education and the girl gets married and to ask for extension of the custody, the mother has to prove that she has been good with the children i.e. through their school performance reports, good medical health history etc. Nonetheless the father can claim the custody of the male child if he feels the boy is being too soft in nature by staying with the mother and he would want him to grow up to be more courageous and responsible. In both circumstances, it will be the judge who will keep the best interests of the child in mind and decide the case.”

Travel bans

Another common misconception among conflicting couples is that they can keep the children away from the spouse by fleeing with them out of the country.

“It is important to note that a custodian cannot travel without the guardian’s approval and vice-versa,” said Nida Chaudhry, solicitor at TWS Legal Consultants. “There are situations when a divorce is pending, and either parent suddenly decides to flee Dubai with the child without the consent of the other parent, without realising that this amounts to child abduction.”

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She said: “This is a very sensitive and serious situation. Even the home country where the parent has fled to is likely to return abducted children to their country of residence. In addition, the parent abducting the child can face serious consequences for such action.”

Maru said if either parent has concerns that their permission will not be sought for travel, they can obtain a travel ban preventing the child from leaving the airport. If there is a dispute the matter can be referred to a judge. “In such situations it is prudent to speak to a family lawyer about the arrangements and safeguards that can be put in place if it is felt there is a potential risk of child abduction.”

There are any number of cases involving travel bans.

Thapar said a Muslim mum with a foreign passport recently approached her country’s embassy to seek a passport for her children based on a court judgment that she was their sole custodian. The guardian father, also a Muslim, living in another country, insisted that the mother come to his country with the children and refused to give his consent for a change of passport. The embassy requested the mother to produce an NOC from the father or get a court order to go ahead with the passport change.

“Since there was no convincing the father, the mother had to procure a court order and hand over the judgments issued in her favour to the foreign embassy which sought legal opinion from us before they could issue the passport. We informed them that we have noticed from the said judgments that the husband does not reside in the UAE and to that extent, there is a Court of Cassation ruling which we referred to, which orders that in the event the guardian is abroad, his consent is not required for the custodian to take the children abroad,” said Thapar.

Maru cited another instance involving a divorced couple with a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl. “The mother had received information that the father was planning to leave Dubai and return to Canada. She was also informed by the children that the father was abusive and violent. She decided to obtain a travel ban in order to prevent his move with the children. The court granted the travel ban since the mother provided strong documentary proof that the children would be unsafe with their father and a move abroad would not be in their best interests.”

At the end of the day, Thapar said parents mulling divorce have a responsibility to separate gracefully for the sake of their children. “If as couples you cannot live together, you have the right to go separate ways. But remember when you have children, especially minors, they do not understand why this is happening and are torn apart between the parents. Take care and deal with such difficult transitions by seeking professional help from elders, psychologists, family counsellors and family lawyers.”

What the law says

As set out in Article 143 and 144 of the Federal Law 28 of 2005 (Personal Status Law, a custodian must be:

1. Rational

2. Mature enough and have attained the age of puberty

3. Honest

4. Able to bring up and take care of a child

5. Free from infectious disease

6. Not have been sentenced for a crime of ‘honour’

If the custodian is the mother she must:

1. Not re marry unless the court decides it’s in the best interests of the child and

2. Share the same religion as the child

If the custodian is the father, he must:

1. Have a suitable woman living within his home to care for the child (such as a female relative)

2. Share the same religion as the child.

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Amber Alert – Abducted three-year-old safely returned to family

February 9, 2016


State official discusses AMBER Alert sytem.

Virginia authorities issued an AMBER Alert Feb. 6 after three-year-old Haven Moses was abducted from a Scottsville home in violation of a protective order.


Moses was taken from a caretaker’s house in Scottsville Feb. 6 by her biological father, James A. Moses III, without the permission of her mother, Nichole Melia.

The abduction was reported to the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office Feb. 6, and an investigation began with assistance from the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Investigators were able to speak with members of James Moses’s family and were ultimately able to arrange for a family member to take Haven to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office,” according to a Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Haven Moses was returned safely to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office Feb. 7.

The Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office has obtained a warrant for the arrest of James Moses for violation of a protective order and parental abduction, according to the press release.

During the investigation, the Virginia State Police issued an AMBER Alert for Haven Moses on Saturday night and terminated the alert on Feb. 7 after the child’s return.

VSP First Sergeant Scott Downs said the state police puts out an AMBER Alert for an abduction case after receiving a request from the agency conducting the investigation and ensuring the alert complies with state law.

Downs said if the alert is in compliance, VSP obtains a waiver from the missing child’s parent or guardian giving the agency permission to post information about the child. The child’s information is then entered into the Emergency Network.

“We’re also sending administrative messages to state police letting them know an AMBER Alert is being activated and talking with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, letting them know,” Downs said. “They have programs that get activated on their side.”

One National Center for Missing and Exploited Children program activates cell phone AMBER Alerts. Many University students saw an alert about Haven Moses’ abduction appear on their phones.


“The FCC only allows 90 characters and restricts content to vehicle information,” Downs said of the cell phone alerts. “We have to keep it short because if we make it too long, it’s not safe to read while driving.”

Alerts are also posted on television and radio. Interstate signs operated by the Virginia Department of Transportation are changed to AMBER Alert information, and other institutions — like hospitals — are alerted as well, Downs said.

“Facebook gets activated, Twitter feeds get activated,” he said. “The closest AMBER Alert automatically appears on Google when you open it.”

This process usually takes around 45 minutes, though it can depend on how long an agency takes to get permission for the release of a child’s information, Downs said.

Downs said with more people on alert for a missing child, there are greater chances of safely and quickly returning the child.

VSP must also make sure officers are available to answer phones once the alert is posted, because the police can receive up to a thousand calls on an AMBER alert. Downs said the number of calls depends on factors like time of day and how much information the alert includes.

Since the advent of the AMBER alert system in Virginia in 2002, the state averages two alerts per year, Downs said.

Officials are not releasing any additional information about the Haven Moses case at this time.

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Child Abduction in Dubai – ‘My husband ran away with our baby’

December 3, 2015


Distraught Dubai mother, 22, files police complaint

Zawi Dubai Abducted Child

Heart-broken. Zawi, 22, shows an image of her infant son Abdul Hadi who was allegedly abducted by her husband following a marital dispute.

For over five months after Abdul Hadi was born, Zawi, 22, had never missed breast-feeding the infant before lovingly tucking him into his crib.

The last time she did that was on October 27. The following day her husband fled with the child to his native Pakistan after allegedly assaulting her.

Zawi has not heard about her son since. Worse, she claims she cannot go to Pakistan to look for him as her husband has taken away her passport.

Her long-term visit visa too expired this week.

Legal recourse

Driven to despair, the woman has moved a Dubai Court after lodging a police complaint.

“I am living a nightmare. After delivery, I came to Dubai with my son to settle down with my husband. He told me he was going to apply for our residency but look what he has done,” says Zawi who is now living with her parents in Ajman. “I am thankful that at least my parents are here. If I still have some semblance of sanity in me, it is because of them. My life stopped the day my child was snatched away from me. I still can’t come to terms with the fact that my darling Hadi is being kept away from me. I don’t know how he is managing because he is still an infant who needs a mother’s constant care and has to be breast fed. I pray he is alright,” adds Zawi who was born in Muscat but raised in the UAE.

Abducted Dubai Pakistan Child

In a police statement to the Dubai courts, Zawi has claimed she was brtually attacked by her husband at their Skycourts Tower residence in Dubailand a night before he ran off with her belongings and son.

“I was badly beaten. So I called my father and left with him, fearing for my safety. I tried to take my child along but my husband’s family stopped me. When I returned the next morning, the door to my husband’s apartment was locked.

Read: We can recover your abducted child

A day later my worst fears came true when I found out that my husband had flown to Pakistan with my child, passport and jewellery,” said Zawi who has also sought intervention from the Pakistan consulate.

“I have applied for a new passport but am yet to hear back from them.”

Meanwhile, Zawi claims her husband was detained at the airport while attempting to re-enter the UAE on November 28 but was later released on bail.

Instances of parental child abduction are on the rise in the UAE. While there are no official figures available, lawyers say they come across such cases routinely.

In recent times, XPRESS alone has reported three child abductions. Many lawyers are now advising parents to seek travel bans on their children so that they cannot be taken out of the country when marriages break down.

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ABP World Group`s special task force, specialized in recovering children from The ”Safe havens of child abductions”

November 29, 2015

ABP World Group Ltd.

For more than over 12 years, ABP World Group has been the world`s leading child recovery company, we have gathered experience during child recovery operations in a number of different countries on all continents.

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We know that some countries are seen as ”Safe Havens” for child abductors – mainly because of the legal system, but also the fact that to recover a child from many of these countries has been close to impossible and combined with a too high risk for all the involved.

We can work together with your lawyer,to make sure your case is not delayed for years.

If ABP World Group™ finds the risk extremely high and that launching an operation will lead to personal danger or damages we will stand down. Instead ABP World Group is ready to start a negotiation process immediately and without any bureaucracy delay.  This is most important because time is critical when it comes to any child abduction.

Child Abduction Recovery Services

Our specialists in the new task force have formed more than 12 years of experience from IPCA cases in mind. The operators in the task force are the best of the best- Team leaders from many different countries Special Forces units, and are trained to do whatever it takes, wherever it takes, whenever it takes. This means that recovery operations in countries like Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan Philippines, Middle East and North Africa etc. will be done with a great aspect of safety and success.

Prevention of Parental Abduction – Recognizing the Warning Signs

Parental Abduction Child Recovery Services

We will under these operations use any necessary means and type of logistics solutions ,to be sure that no criminal child abductor should never again feel safe and out of reach from our justice.

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Police: Parental Abduction Suspect Located

November 9, 2015


Fairfax County Police officers located the woman who went missing with her 6 month old son on Nov. 5, 2015. She was reported missing by her husband and believed to have been headed to El Salvador.

Nelly Bonillas de Cordon

Police say Nelly Bonillas de Cordon was found in the Reston area after being notified by Child Protective Services, according to a Nov. 6, 2015 police announcement.

Cordon was charged with one count of abduction.

Child Protective Services is working on arrangements for the care of the child and he appeared to be unharmed, according to police.

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Foster Child Abducted By Mother, Returned Home Safely

November 2, 2015

Source: abc news

Pittsburgh Police helped track down a 5-year-old girl who was allegedly abducted by her mother.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 15.17.07

Police say 42-year-old Latoya Lyerly had a visitation with her daughter at a homeless shelter in McKeesport on Sunday. A family member dropped the girl off at the shelter in the morning, with the understanding the girl had to be returned by 2 p.m.

The family member said that Lyerly did not return to the child until 8 p.m. At that point, according to the criminal complaint, Lyerly asked the family member if she could stay with her, but the family member said, “No.”

However, the family member did agree to drive her to North Homewood Avenue. The complaint says when they were stopped at an intersection, Lyerly grabbed her daughter and started running down Monticello Street.

Eventually, a police officer stopped Lyerly at the intersection of Frankstown Avenue and Sterrett Street. At that point, police say Lyerly was yelling at her daughte to “run.” Her daughter started running, but was caught a short time later by officers.

The 5 year old girl was not harmed. She was returned to her foster family around 2:00 this morning.

Latoya Lyerly is in the Allegheny County Jail facing charges of interference with custody of children and endangering the welfare of children.

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Lakewood Police believe biological father abducted kids to take them to Mexico

October 7, 2015


LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Three children visiting their biological father did not return to their foster parents, Lakewood Police said.


A family member requested a welfare check from the department on Monday. Officers went to the father’s house but no one was there.

Police believe Jose Roberto Herrera-Simental may be taking his children to Mexico. The 38-year-old is 5-foot-8 and weighs 170 pounds.

Mario Herrera, a 4-year-old boy, Isabelle Herrera, a 1-year-old girl, and Baby Herrera, a 6-week old girl, are the missing children.

They may be in a black Nissan Maxima with license plate number 343WCW.

The children are not believed to be in danger.

Anyone with information should call 303-987-7111.

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