Worm Turning in ‘Baby Gabriel’ Case?

The worm might be starting to turn in Logan McQueary’s quest to find his son, ‘Baby Gabriel.’ Last December, Baby Gabriel’s mother, Elizabeth Johnson, grabbed the boy who was then eight months old, and took him to San Antonio, Texas, where he disappeared. McQueary got a court to award him custody a matter of days after she absconded with the boy, but, despite a multi-state hunt that’s been extensively publicized, Baby Gabriel has never been found. Shortly after she left Arizona, Johnson texted McQueary that she had murdered the child, but she has since disavowed that claim.

Johnson was arrested in Florida and returned to Arizona where she was charged with custodial interference, kidnapping and child abuse. She’s been in jail ever since under a $1.1 million bond. Earlier in the summer, she was declared incompetent to stand trial, but that finding has now been reversed. A trial date has not yet been set.

Johnson’s friend, Tammi Smith is also charged in the matter. Smith wanted to adopt Gabriel, and apparently assisted Johnson in filing false documents with the court to facilitate an adoption. Among other things, those documents claimed that McQueary might not be Gabriel’s father, even though an Arizona family court has found that he is. It is McQueary’s objection to the adoption of his child that caused Johnson to kidnap the boy in the first place.

Despite her detention, Johnson has always adamantly refused to cooperate with authorities. Since her original claim of murder, she has always said that she gave Gabriel to a couple in a park in San Antonio and that she doesn’t know who they are or where. Essentially no one buys that claim.

Now this article tells us that Johnson is open to a plea bargain (Arizona Republic, 9/28/10). That of course doesn’t mean that the prosecution has offered anything or that, if it has, it’s something she would accept. But my take on it is this: Johnson has been found competent to stand trial; her grandfather says she looks worn out by her time in jail; a trial date will be set soon and when she’s tried, she’ll be convicted; her extremely bad behavior since absconding with the child are well known to all, so she can expect no favors either from the judge or from the jury; Tammi Smith is trying to cut a deal with prosecutors and that would mean telling police everything she knows about Johnson’s conduct. In short, Johnson is in a crack; she’s got no friends and will likely receive the longest sentence a judge can give her under the circumstances of the case.

So her lawyer has figured out that it’s time to make the best deal he can. And any deal would surely require Johnson to tell the truth about the whereabouts of Logan McQueary’s son. I can’t see a prosecutor giving Johnson the time of day without that for the simple reason that she’s got nothing else to offer. Now of course, if she did kill the child, she won’t admit to that, but I’ve never believed she did. I’ve always thought that Tammi Smith and possibly a woman she knows in Atlanta gave Johnson information about how to get rid of an infant in an extra-legal, no-questions-asked manner.

But whatever the case, Johnson won’t see the outside until the newspapers run photos of a smiling Logan McQueary holding his son.

Stay tuned.

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