‘Child Abduction’ Turns Out to Be Paternal Custody

August 16th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Amber Alert!  Child Snatched!  Interstate Manhunt!  Five Year Old Boy Abducted While Playing in Front Yard!  Police Investigating!  Mother Distraught!

It’s pretty lurid stuff.  It’s every parent’s nightmare, and it’s all right here (Anniston Star, 8/13/12).  It’s just not what you think.

Little Michiri Zaquae Dabney, age five, was indeed playing in his front yard in Anniston, Alabama with a cousin when a white van with a black stripe pulled up.
 A man got out and took the little boy away leaving the cousin behind.  His mother, crazed with fear, notified the police who immediately issued an Amber Alert and two separate investigations.

Anniston police Lt. Fred Forsythe said police had run “two concurrent investigations” from the time they learned of the possible kidnapping. Some investigators looked at possible scenarios in which a family member was the abducter. Others were working the case based on the assumption that Dabney didn’t know his kidnapper…
[The boy’s mother Lynette] Davis told police Sunday that sometime after 5:15 p.m. Dabney was abducted from a yard near their home in the 2000 block of Duncan Avenue…
While investigators were talking to the mother, anxious friends and family members crowded the Police Department lobby, spilling outside, while waiting for any news. Tabatha Best was at the police station after participating most of the night in a community-wide search party, she said.
“We all formed an extended family since yesterday,” she said of the 30 or so people waiting at the police station.
It was a scene chock full of pathos.  The only problem was that, apparently, it was a fraud.  Lynette Davis either knew or had good reason to suspect where her son was – in his fathers’ care.  What she neglected to tell the police was that Michiri’s father, Michael Dabney, had filed a suit for custody of his son in family court in Kankakee, Illinois, where he lives.  That court notified Davis of the hearing, but she failed to show up, so custody was transferred to Michael Dabney.
That was back in April.  What’s been going on since then?  The article doesn’t say, but the Anniston Police Department received documents from the court in Illinois verifying that Dabney had been given custody and that Davis, although cited to appear, chose not to.  Given all that, Davis’ drama of her abducted child begins to look like a lie and a monumental waste of police resources.  The simple fact is that she knew or had reason to suspect where Michiri was, but didn’t tell the police, opting for drama instead.
But Forsythe said police received court documents from Kankakee, Ill. that said Dabney’s father, Michael Dabney, had won a custody court case in April. The documents said Davis was supposed to be present for the trial, but never came…
“There was some misinformation, and some information that was not forthcoming,” Forsythe said. “If we had known that from the start, it would have changed the way we investigated this case.”Forsythe said it was too early to tell if charges would be pressed against the mother, and said the decision would be up to the district attorney.
So the custody matter was decided in Illinois in April.  This is August.  What’s been happening in the ensuing four months?  My guess is that Michael Dabney’s been trying to get Davis to turn the boy over to him and she’s refused.  So instead of waiting any longer, he drove to Alabama and picked up his son.  If I’m right, Lynette Davis has done more than lie to Anniston police.  She’s also thwarted a custody order.  Will she be punished for any of that?  I won’t hold my breath, but I expect we’ll learn more in the next few days.
I contacted the reporter for the Anniston Star to find out why he didn’t interview Michael Dabney for his article.  He told me he’s still trying to find contact information for him.

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