January 30th, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Child abductor Maggie Deigh got the benefit of the doubt from local police; now, after kidnapping two children, she’s getting it from the family court. Read about it here (Liberty Tribune, 1/24/13) and here (Fox4KC, 12/24/12).
Back on December 7, Don Reed of Liberty, Missouri dropped his four-year-old daughter Riley off at her mother’s house for her usual court-ordered weekend visitation. He didn’t see her again until December 18 when Texas authorities reported that Deigh had been arrested with the two girls and a crack or meth pipe in her possession. A relieved Reed hopped a flight from Kansas City and recovered his daughter, who is now once again safely in his care.
But that’s far from the whole story. First, Deigh has another daughter, 16-year-old Bethany Bednar, by another father, Daniel Bednar. At the same time she abducted Riley Reed, she did the same to Bethany. In short, once Reed dropped Riley off at Deigh’s house, she piled the two girls in her car, tossed their cell phones out the window (but was careful to keep the crack/meth pipe) and lit out for Belize. According to Bethany, Deigh had heard there was an artist’s colony in Belize, so she decided to abduct the girls there. But, to avoid being traced, she’d done no computer research to see if there was such a colony, if so, where it was and whether they’d be interested in harboring a felon and two abducted girls. It sounds like a less than well thought out plan.
The three got as far as Mexico where they spent some time in an apartment and were informed by federal police that they couldn’t travel through without a passport. Apparently, the part of Mexico they were in is one of the worst for drug violence and kidnappings of Americans, so it was a good thing that the federales turned her around. Deigh returned to the United States to get passports where she was apprehended by Customs and Border Protection Officers and arrested by Roma, Texas police. From there she was extradited to Missouri where she faces one felony count of interference with child custody and one misdemeanor count of child endangerment.
So what were Don Reed, Daniel Bednar and Liberty police doing all that time? Well, Reed went to Deigh’s house on Sunday to pick up Riley, only to find there was no one home. Deeply worried, he contact Liberty police who took the opportunity to do nothing. For at least five days they did nothing to help Reed recover his daughter nor Riley to get free of a plainly irresponsible and possibly drug-abusing mother. They didn’t issue an Amber Alert, they didn’t notify other law enforcement agencies. They sat on their hands and allowed Deigh to get away with both daughters.
As far as I can tell, Daniel Bednar didn’t at first know his daughter was missing, but he soon found out. Eventually, with the assistance of friends on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, Reed managed to pressure Liberty police into action. Their interagency alert reached the Border Patrol who apprehended Deigh. But of course that was nothing but dumb luck. Had Mexican authorities not turned her back or had Deigh been bright enough to have passports in her possession, she’d be in Belize this very minute, smoking dope and searching for an artists’ colony that may or may not exist. Or, all three might be dead in the Mexican desert, their car safely in the hands of drug gangs.
You’ve probably noticed by now that, before any of this happened, Reed and Bednar had primary custody of their kids. It’s extremely rare for fathers to get primary custody of children, so that raises the question “just how bad a mother is Maggie Deigh to lose custody of not one but two kids to two separate fathers?” Given her behavior in the abduction cases and her possession of a crack/meth pipe, I’ll guess the answer is “pretty bad.”
But none of that impressed the Liberty police who decided that a mother gone missing with two children neither of whom answers her cell phone constituted just another child custody kerfuffle.
Reed said the ordeal started Friday, Dec. 7, when he dropped Riley off at his ex-wife’s house. When Riley didn’t return the following Sunday, Reed said he tried repeatedly to contact Deigh and finally went to her house, but no one was there. He then contacted Liberty police to report a missing child.
Reed said police refused to take a missing persons report and did not take action for days, considering it just another routine custody dispute.
“I’m very angry with the prosecutor’s office and with the police,” Reed said. “There were three females missing — Maggie was not at work, Bethany was not at school and Riley was not with me — and they did less than nothing.”
So much for the police. What about the family court? Well, amazing as it may seem, having abducted two children and placed them in danger, having been charged with a felony and jailed, the family court has decided that Deigh’s visitation with the kids should be supervised by… wait for it… Bethany Bednar. That’s right, a 16-year-old girl, who is Deigh’s daughter, is now charged by the court with supervising her own visitation and that of four-year-old Riley. And of course she’s the same girl whom Deigh kidnapped in the first place. If that’s what the judge wants to do, I’d suggest that he just make it easy on everyone and issue Deigh an engraved invitation to abduct the girls again.
Reed, who obviously knows Deigh all too well, has had it with her.
Reed said he would like to see Deigh convicted and sent to jail.
“I’d like to see her stay in jail until Riley is 18,” Reed said.
I can well imagine. But Maggie Deigh won’t spend 14 years behind bars. Having shown her every possible leniency so far, I wonder what the police, prosecutors and courts will come up with when it’s time to sentence her for her crimes. I’ll be astonished if she does any time at all, but we’ll see. The willingness of courts to give mothers a pass, regardless of the extent of their wrongdoing, is well known, but my guess is that Don Reed and Daniel Bednar can tell the court some stories about Maggie Deigh. So let’s all stay tuned for the next installment of this drama. Let’s see what it takes to get a judge to understand what everyone involved already does – that Maggie Deigh needs to spend some time behind bars.