Breaking News

Missing 9-Year Old Center of Custody Dispute

BY LEANN DILBECK –

Polk County Sheriff Mike Godfrey has confirmed that 9-year old Jada Howard, who was taken from her grandparents’ front yard on Tuesday, July 14, in what was found to be have been a parental abduction, was located in LeFlore County, Okla. only hours after her abduction.

Nine-year old Jada Howard was playing in her grandparents’ front yard in Cove at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon when an older model white Chevy Tahoe pulled up and she got into the vehicle. The vehicle had Texas plates and the direction of travel was unknown at the time the incident was first reported to law enforcement.

The Polk County Sheriff’s office issued a BOLO immediately after receiving the call. Upon learning more information surrounding the incident, authorities found that Jada’s mother was driving the vehicle and would be attempting to return to Texas. The Sheriff’s Department notified the Texas Office of Child Protective Services.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Department began to ‘ping’ the mother’s cell phone and found the location to be in LeFlore County, Oklahoma. Deputies contacted the LeFlore County Sheriff’s Department who located the mother and child at a fast food restaurant in Poteau, Oklahoma. Polk County deputies traveled to Poteau; however, upon arrival, the mother gave deputies a court order saying that she had the right to retain custody of the child.

Authorities knew from previous conversations with Child Protective Services (CPS) in Texas that there is an open case against the mother who has had one child removed from her home previous to this incident and that upon arrival back in the state of Texas, CPS would take custody of Jada.

In Poteau, the mother was given the option to release Jada back to the grandparents that she was taken from or take the child, with the chance of her going into state custody. The mother opted to take Jada so officers released the pair. It is not known whether the mother traveled back to Texas with Jada or elsewhere.

Authorities commended the public for their quick response to the story, saying the first 24-hours following an abduction are critical.

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