A 14-year-old boy, missing for almost a year, may be a pawn in a custody battle between his parents. But if it is, it’s a disappearance unlike most we see when child custody is involved. Read about it here (Denver Post, 7/3/11). Andrew Mosier hasn’t been seen since August 5 of last year. It’s not the first time he’s disappeared from his father’s care. His father is Houston Neurologist, Dr. Dennis Mosier; his mother is Denver dentist Carol Lazell. Although police have questioned Lazell and investigated her residence, she’s not charged in the boy’s disappearance.
Her maternal uncle Doug however vanished at the same time Andrew Mosier did. He too has not been seen since. Unlike his niece, Doug Lazell has been charged with child abductionstemming from Andrew’s first disappearance. Mosier and Lazell married in 1995 and separated in 2007 when Lazell moved from Houston to Colorado with their son Andrew. Mosier filed for divorce and primary custody was initially given to Lazell.
Mosier was given limited visitation, but his ex-wife never let him see his son, he said.
In January 2010, Jefferson County Magistrate Judge Joel Schaefer transferred custody of Andrew to his father and allowed visits with Carol Lazell only at times when she was supervised by a “mental health professional.”
Schaefer’s ruling said Andrew was “endangered in respondent mother’s care” in part because of her alienation of his father and because she had not complied with numerous court orders, including taking Andrew to weekly therapy sessions.
Mosier took his son back to Houston, took him to therapy, enrolled him in school and put him on an exercise and diet routine. He rebuilt a relationship with his son through designing model planes, helping him study and taking him out to restaurants.
That all suggests serious emotional problems on Lazell’s part as well as Andrew’s. But on June 18, 2010, Doug Lazell showed up at Mosier’s house and convinced Andrew’s caretaker to allow him to leave with the boy. The two flew back to Denver, but Mosier called the police and got his boy back within four days. Andrew however started making alarming allegations against his father including sodomy. Police investigated and cleared Mosier of any wrongdoing, but the mere fact of the allegations was enough for Lazell to ask for and receive a restraining order against Mosier. Andrew went to live with maternal grandparents. That lasted a month until Lazell withdrew the restraining order and Mosier got his son back. That lasted two days. Andrew and his great uncle Doug have been missing ever since. Carol Lazell claims to know nothing of his whereabouts, but Mosier isn’t buying it. He’s hired lawyers and private investigators to try to find his son. That includes tailing Carol Lazell who, they say, acts like a person with something to hide.
Mosier said he fears his son is again regressing in isolation without friends or schooling. He’s concerned about far- reaching emotional trauma.
“He could be scarred for life,” Mosier said.
As I said, it seems from the article that Andrew Mosier likely has some sort of learning impairment or emotional problems, the nature of which I can’t guess. But he’s been to therapy, and, at the age of 14, needed a caretaker to be with him when his father wasn’t home. Mosier refers to his “regressing” in isolation. Whatever the particulars may be, it looks like Andrew may be more fragile than the run-of-the-mill teenager. That means that Mosier is probably right when he says he fears for his well-being. As I’ve written before, children abducted by a parent are victims of child abuse. That’s no less true for children abducted by a relative. Remaining out of contact with friends, family, school, teachers and other known and reliable sources of support can be emotionally devastating to a child. My guess is that’s true in spades for Andrew. My guess also is that Carol Lazell and her uncle are working hand in glove on this. I don’t know the particulars any better than anyone else, but if she didn’t tell Doug that Mosier was abusing the boy, I’d be surprised. After all, Carol Lazell has already been found by one judge to have alienated Andrew. Whether Doug Lazell took matters into his own hands or whether the two conspired to abduct Andrew is one we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, a young boy, possibly one with emotional problems to begin with, is the victim of child abuse every day he’s apart from his father.