An incredibly controversial custody action has led to an outcry in Florida and across the nation for change in the way that Child Protective Services are used by police. The child custody case centers on a family with five children who recently lost their daughter while traveling across the country after visiting family. When they called police to report that their daughter was missing from their hotel room, their nightmare was magnified beyond what anyone might have expected.
The family had stopped midway along their journey to spend the night in a hotel, wanting to give their five kids a break from the car and allow everyone a chance to relax before the final leg of their drive. After swimming in the hotel's pool, the family went back to the room to settle in for the evening. When the parents noticed that their 7-year-old daughter was not in the room, they called police and immediately began searching for the girl.
When police arrived, officers began interrogating the parents, splitting them up and taking an aggressive stance in the belief that one or both parents had something to do with the girl's disappearance. The child's body was soon recovered in a body of water near the hotel. Police opened a Special Crimes Investigation against the parents, and the remaining four children were removed from their care and placed into foster homes on a temporary basis. After hiring an attorney and fighting that move, the children were returned and the family has been allowed to continue home.
The family's attorney has stated that he believes that the decision by police to focus exclusively on the parents led to a diversion of resources that could and should have been directed toward finding their missing daughter. He has asked that the officers responsible be disciplined or fired. There is no word on how the investigation will proceed, but there has been speculation that the family could file a civil rights lawsuit in the unusual child custody matter. Florida readers will likely continue to follow the case to see how the issue is resolved.
Source: amarillo.com, "Family reunited after death of 7-year-old girl", Aaron Davis, July 25, 2016