A mother and grandmother collaborated to kidnap a boy from his father after the dad won custody, and now are attempting to escape punishment by playing the abuse card. From ABC News’ Custody Hearing Today in Case of Illinois Boy Hidden in Wall (9/8/09):
A court in southern Illinois today will begin determining custody of Richard “Ricky” Chekevdia, the little boy found hidden in a wall at his grandmother’s house two years after disappearing with his mother.
It’s the next step in getting the boy’s life back to normal after he vanished in 2007 during a contentious custody battle between his father, Michael Chekevdia and his mother, Shannon Wilfong.
His grandmother, Diane Dobbs — who had been charged initially with aiding and abetting the boy’s disappearance — was re-arrested Monday on a related charge.
The arrest came hours after Dobbs, then out on $1,000 bond, professed her innocence and took “Good Morning America” on a tour of the house where authorities say Ricky, 6, was hidden behind walls and in secret rooms.
ABC’s Carterville, Ill., affiliate WSIL reported today that Dobbs and her fiance, Robert Sandefur, were re-arrested for harassing a potential witness after a woman called police to say the couple had threatened the life of her son.
Wilfong, who disappeared with Ricky after Michael Chekevdia won custody of the boy two years ago, remains in custody from her initial arrest on felony child abduction charges.
Chekevdia has yet to formally reunite with his son, but said he saw him from afar at a Labor Day picnic.
“I didn’t get to touch him, I didn’t get to talk to him but I saw him,” he said. “And it’s just a great feeling to see your child playing.”
Dobbs told “Good Morning America” on Monday that she did nothing wrong in helping to hide her family and keep the boy safe.
She maintains that Wilfong disappeared with Ricky after police failed to properly investigate Wilfong’s claims that Chekevdia has sexually abused Ricky, a charge Chekevdia has vehemently denied.
“I’ve been exonerated,” Chekevdia said. “I have been cleared of all wrongdoing”…
Mother and son were found huddled in a crawl space Friday by police who were acting on a tip. They said it was clear that Ricky had rarely, if ever, ventured outside. Dobbs said she put the two in the hiding space behind a dresser when she saw police gathering outside.
After Michael Chekevdia won temporary child custody rights, Wilfong accused him of sexually abusing the boy. When child welfare workers found no evidence and awarded Michael Chekevdia custody, Wilfong disappeared with their son…
Investigators found the [grandmother's] house riddled with secret hiding places, including a hole in the floor and another hole carved into the wall behind a dresser.
“We let him out of the car, and he ran around like he’d never seen the outdoors,” Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Stan Diggs said. “It was actually very sad”…
For the time being, Michael Chekevdia said he is happy to abide by the system and wait until child welfare workers determine that his son is ready to see him again.
“I have seen him at a distance and he looks well. … He could look better. He’s eating, he’s sleeping, he’s socializing very well,” Chekevdia said. “And when they tell me that it’s time, I’ll go.”
To be fair, it’s not impossible that the mother and the grandmother were in some fashion acting on the boys’ behalf, such as in the Joyce Murphy case. In that case a mother kidnapped her daughter to keep her away from a sexually deviant father who had used false claims of Parental Alienation to wrest custody from a protective parent–exactly as her feminist defenders said.
Much more likely, however, is that this is yet another example of one of the plagues of our time–mothers doing everything they possibly can to interfere with or destroy the relationship between their children and their exes. Let’s hope they’re reunited quickly.