Isabella Miller-Jenkins- Virginia- 2010 May 2, 2015 0:01:32 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on May 2, 2015 0:01:32 GMT -5
(Left: Lisa Ann Miller (suspected abductor) Middle: Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins (missing: Age: 7) Right: Isabella Miller-Jenkins (missing: age-enhanced to 11) credit: Charley Project)
Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins is missing and presumed abducted by her biological in a case that made national headlines for the myriad of issues it involved. Below is the Charley Project description of the case:
Isabella's parents, Janet Jenkins and Lisa Ann Miller, were lesbian partners. They met in 1997 and moved in with each other a few weeks later. In December 2000, the couple were joined in a civil union in Vermont. (Their home state of Virginia did not recognize civil unions at the time; gay marriage was legalized there in 2014.) In 2001, they made the decision to become parents and Lisa conceived Isabella with sperm from an anonymous donor. Janet never legally adopted her. Four months after the child's birth, the family moved to Fair Haven, Vermont. Lisa had fertility treatments to try to have another baby, but wasn't able to. The couple were members of a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
In 2003, Lisa and Janet ended their relationship amicably and Lisa moved back to Virginia with Isabella. The women had an informal agreement where Janet would pay child support and have regular visits with Isabella. Janet and Lisa's cooperation ended after Lisa joined the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a conservative congregation founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell, and renounced her homosexuality. She now believes homosexuality is a sin.
When Judge William Cohen in Vermont dissolved the couple's civil union in 2004, he gave custody of Isabella to Lisa and liberal visitation to Janet. Lisa regularly refused to allow Janet access to Isabella, however, because she felt Janet was not the child's mother but rather a "friend." She testified that Janet was a physically and emotionally abusive partner, and she also accused Janet of sexually abusing Isabella. Janet denied these allegations under oath, and Virginia's Child Protective Services deemed the abuse accusations unfounded. Judge Cohen fined Lisa $25 for every day she refused to let Janet see Isabella, and he made the ruling retroactive. Lisa quickly accumulated thousands of dollars in fines.
Lisa fought the case up to the state supreme court of Vermont, which decided against her, ruling that Janet was Isabella's legal parent and the case was the same as any custody dispute between heterosexual parents. Lisa then tried to change jurisdiction to Virginia. The lower courts sided with her, but the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that Vermont had jurisdiction. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case. On November 20, 2009, Judge Cohen found Lisa in contempt of court and awarded custody of Isabella to Janet, saying this was the only way the child would be able to spend time with both parents.
Lisa took Isabella and disappeared sometime in the fall of 2009. It's unclear exactly when, but her neighbors said they hadn't seen her since September. Investigators believe she initially took Isabella to Canada and then to Mexico. She was supposed to turn the child over to Janet on January 1, 2010, but she never did. Judge Cohen gave her 30 days to comply with the ruling, then found her in contempt of court and issued a felony warrant for her arrest on charges of kidnapping.
In April 2011, Timothy David "Timo" Miller (no relation to Lisa) was arrested in Alexandria, Virginia and charged with aiding and abetting Lisa and Isabella's flight. He is a Mennonite missionary in Nicaragua and authorities believe he helped Lisa and Isabella leave the United States and move to a "safe house" in the capital city of Managua. In October, authorities dropped the charges against Timothy in exchange for his cooperation in the investigation. In 2014, however, was indicted again in New York State along with Philip Zodhiates, charged with helping Lisa and Isabella go through New York to Canada. Charges against the two men are pending.
Kenneth L. Miller (no relation to Lisa or Timothy) was indicted for aiding international parental kidnapping in December 2011. A pastor with the Beachy Amish-Mennonite Church in Stuart's Draft, Virginia, he allegedly aided Lisa and Isabella's flight by having fellow Amish-Mennonites purchase plane tickets for them to fly to Canada and then on to Nicaragua. The two females were wearing the long dresses Mennonite women wear; Kenneth had purchased them. In Nicaragua, they initially stayed with Amish-Mennonite missionaries on a rural farm. Lisa homeschooled Isabella, who used the name "Lydia" and learned to speak Spanish. Kenneth was convicted in March 2013 and sentenced to 27 months in prison, but he won't have to start serving his sentence until the outcome of his appeal is decided. Citing religious reasons, he has refused to testify against others whom authorities believed have helped hide Isabella and Lisa.
In August 2012, Janet filed a filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) suit against Lisa, Kenneth, Timothy, the Liberty University School of Law, the Thomas Road Baptist Church and others, alleging they'd all assisted in Isabella's abduction and conspired to keep the child hidden. The suit is pending.
The Miller-Jenkins custody battle has made national headlines because of the issues it involves. Isabella and Lisa may still be in Nicaragua, or they may be in El Salvador. There haven't been any sightings of them in several years. Authorities continue to search for Isabella. Her case remains unsolved.
Thoughts? For me- it comes down to this- would the Judges have ruled the same way had this been a straight couple? And I believe the answer would be yes. I see some make the argument that Lisa had the baby through in vitro fertilization, however it did not give her the right to deny Janet the right to see Isabella.
They were still technically in a civil union and I actually found a great example of a somewhat similar case involving a straight couple in Virginia:
"A Virginia Beach man had a daughter with his girlfriend with the help of in-vitro fertilization. When the couple separated months after their daughter was born, however, the mother prevented the father from seeing the child, even though they had signed legal papers establishing the man as the girl's father. The mother attempted to classify the father as an unmarried sperm donor and invoke the state law that says that unmarried sperm donors have no parental rights. As the case went all the way up to Virginia Supreme Court, the Court finally ruled against her, saying the purpose of the law was not to deny parental rights in cases like this solely because the couple may have been unmarried."
And that was a case where the couple wasn't married. Lisa and Janet were in a civil union at least.
From what I've read on the case, Isabella has been rumored bouncing around different barrios of Nicaragua for at least the first three years Lisa took her.
So we have a woman who would apparently rather kidnap her child and have her live in a Central American country that often has some rough and downtrodden areas than let a Lesbian woman visit her twice a week. (Especially ironic considering Lisa used to be one.) Seriously, two days a week of another woman who loved her visiting is worse than an entire lifetime in the downtrodden areas of Central America?
Some have said Lisa is being persecuted for her religious beliefs. Janet says she simply just wants to see her child. And it is also rather the ironic the same people who claim they are persecuted because of their religion are usually the same people who are completely intolerant of anyone who does not share their beliefs.
What Lisa is doing is not healthy for the child and she needs to bring her back to the U.S.
Unfortunately, I can see a lot of people who sympathize with Lisa and are anti-homosexuality helping her hide. But if you know where Isabella and Lisa, you have to do the right thing, and it will be the right thing for everyone involved- and call authorities.
Admin Note #1: According to missingkids.org, Anyone having information on this case should call 1-800-THE-LOST or the Bedford County Sheriff's Office (Virginia) at 1-540-586-7827
Admin Note #2: If you have any news-related updates on this case, please contact us here: amwfans.com/thread/1662/website-contact-form