Kidnapping case stirring controversy in Edgefield Co.

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Aug. 5, 2013

EDGEFIELD, S.C. (WRDW) -- Aiken attorney Aaron Walsh is speaking out.

"If this gets me in trouble or somebody's angry at me, this is not my concern. I need this child back in South Carolina," he said.

Walsh says this past weekend, a 15-year-old Edgefield girl was kidnapped by her mother and taken to Arizona, even though his clients, the girl's grandparents, had emergency custody.

"No person was to take this person out of the state," he said.

A court order signed by Family Court Judge Kellum W. Allen on Friday backs that up. In the order, Walsh writes that the mother previously beat the child and didn't have a stable home or the money to take care of her.

"The actions, plans and threats of [the defendant] place the minor child at severe risk of physical and emotional harm if this order is not granted," it reads.

The order gives the grandparents emergency temporary possession of the child and says that no one should removed the child from the state without further order from the court.

However, Walsh says the mother kidnapped the child anyway, and the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office did little to stop it. Walsh sent them an urgent fax on Friday pleading for help in stopping them.

"Urgent!" the fax reads. "Child is with Defendant/Mother and may be on the run."

"I followed that fax up with a phone call to the shift commander [of the Sheriff's Office] Friday afternoon, giving him mother's address, mother's work address, mother's boyfriend's name, where her boyfriend works," Walsh said.

Walsh says the Sheriff's Office didn't put the child in the national database, the National Crime Information Center, as a missing person immediately, so he says the mother and daughter made it to Phoenix on Saturday without being stopped.

Right now, he's still not sure if the girl is OK.

On Monday, the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office called authorities in Arizona, and now, the child is in custody there.

However, Walsh, the lawyer, says they're still having problems getting the child back.

Capt. Chris Walsh with the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office says his men did everything they can legally do, and since he says the child isn't in immediate danger, he says they didn't push for an Amber Alert.

Capt. Walsh says his department actually did more than they were required to do. He says he doesn't have the authority to make an arrest or stop the mother from taking the child out of state. He says she wouldn't be violating the law; she would simply be violating a court order which didn't stipulate that his department must strictly prevent the child from leaving the state.

"They don't really think this child meets the criteria of a missing or kidnapped child. I very respectfully disagree," said Aaron Walsh.

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