This week’s Select It Sunday case was chosen by Maddie C (she emailed, coincidentally, a few days before I received my most recent loony email): Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins, a seven-year-old who was abducted by her mother, Lisa Ann Miller, from Bedford, Virginia back in 2010. Lisa took her south; I think they were last known to be in Nicaragua. Isabella would now be fourteen.
This is a very high-profile family abduction case, mostly because Isabella’s parents are both women and Lisa is an ex-gay, right-wing Christian whose cause other right-wing Christian people have embraced — to the extent that several of them faced charges for helping her.
Lisa and Isabella’s other mother, Janet Jenkins, had split up amicably and Isabella lived with Lisa and had visitation Janet, but after Lisa joined Jerry Falwell‘s church, she decided homosexuality was sinful and wouldn’t let Isabella see Janet anymore because she didn’t want to expose her to that way of life. Several years of legal wrangling later, a family court judge transferred custody to Janet because he thought this was the only way Isabella could maintain a relationship with both mothers. In response, Lisa took her.
I am very much an LGBT ally, but even if I wasn’t, this case is really no different than any other family abduction case. You’ve got one parent who refused to let their ex see the child, alienated the child against her ex, made false accusations of abuse by the ex, and decided she was above the law and didn’t have to obey court rulings. This started long before the abduction, when the judge tried to enforce the visitation schedule by fining Lisa $25 for every day she wouldn’t allow Isabella to see Janet. Lisa racked up thousands in fines.
And to top it off, when they left Virginia, Lisa left Isabella’s pet hamsters behind at home to die a slow, horrible death of dehydration and thirst. Because, you see, if she asked anyone to look after them, that might tip the authorities off that they were going on the run. So she’s an animal abuser as well as a child abuser. Parental abduction is demonstrably child abuse, and Lisa is using religion as a shield for her crimes.
Not cool, Lisa. Not cool at all.
And now Isabella is probably living in pretty miserable conditions. El Salvador, one country where she and Lisa might be living, is an incredibly violent place and is considered the murder capital of the world. Although Nicaragua is safer by comparison, that’s not saying much, and Nicaragua is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, after Haiti. If Isabella is like most victims of family abduction — even those who aren’t living in third world countries — she is not receiving adequate education or health care. And of course she’s been completely cut off from the other side of her family, who love her. Lisa has, so far, stolen six and a half years of her life.
This is all pretty standard, alas, for family abductions. I cannot begin to explain how much parental kidnappers, and those that support them, disgust me.