When Don Reed’s ex-wife, Maggie Deigh, fled to Mexico with their 4-year-old daughter and Deigh’s 16-year-old daughter from another marriage, Reed feared he would never see his child again. Angie Anaya Borgedalen reports for the Liberty Tribune.
After what he described as a frustrating and frightening experience, Reed said he now plans to seek sole custody of his daughter, Riley, and hopes to have his ex-wife’s parental involvement severed. He currently has primary custody of his daughter and his ex-wife has stipulated visitation rights. Deigh’s older daughter must be present during weekend visits with the younger daughter, according to the divorce decree.
Reed said he was to appear before Judge David Chamberlain on Wednesday, January 23th, to plead his case for sole custody, but that appearance had to be rescheduled. Reed said he planned to move from Liberty [Missouri] to Miami, Florida, to help care for his elderly mother.
According to Clay County Sheriff Paul Vescovo, Deigh waived extradition and deputies were going to Texas to escort Deigh back to Liberty to face a felony charge of interference with custody. She has also been charged by the prosecutor’s office with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child by creating a “substantial risk to life” by taking her teenage daughter, Bethany Bednar, to Mexico.
Deigh has been held in the Starr County Jail in Texas since she was arrested Dec. 18 at the Mexican border. According to court documents, Deigh had in her possession what was described as a “crack pipe” or “meth pipe.” After Deigh’s arrest, the two children were placed in the custody of child protective services in Texas before they were turned over to their fathers.
Reed said he flew to Texas December 19th to pick up his daughter and then rented a car and drove with her to Florida to spend the holidays with family.
Reed said the ordeal started Friday, December 7th, 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.”
Capt. Andy Hedrick of the Liberty police said an AMBER Alert, a system that alerts the public and the media to a missing child who may be in imminent danger, is not usually issued for child custody disputes. He said they did issue alerts to other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for Deigh and the children.
“As this case developed, we were able to get the children back and her (Deigh) in custody,” Hedrick said.
Reed said Deigh crossed the Mexican border three times and even stayed several days in an apartment in Mexico. It was not until December 18th, when Deigh checked on passports, that she was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol. By then, Liberty police had entered Deigh and the girls’ names into a national crime data base system and they got a hit.
“If they had taken this seriously, Maggie wouldn’t have gotten across the border with the girls,” Reed said.
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.
Hedrick said he was glad the children were returned safely to their fathers. He said it was very common to have parental custody disputes.
“A vast majority of them are resolved very quickly,” Hedrick said. “This one was extremely unusual. Sometimes you don’t have all the information until you do the investigation.”