Select It Sunday: Isabella Miller-Jenkins

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.

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14 thoughts on “Select It Sunday: Isabella Miller-Jenkins

  1. Maddie C August 7, 2016 / 11:13 pm

    Thanks for choosing my selection Meaghan! I really appreciate your educating views on family abduction.

    • Meaghan August 7, 2016 / 11:21 pm

      So many people are ignorant on the subject — they tend to just assume that the left-behind parent must have been abusive. I’ve seen a lot of abuse ALLEGATIONS against left-behind parents, but very, very few verified cases of abuse.

      I don’t know if Lisa genuinely believes she’s “saving” Isabella and that Isabella will be somehow ruined if she grew up knowing her gay mother. But most of the time, the primary reason a parent does something like this is to to spite their ex. I also see cases where, I believe, the parent wants to return to their home country and take their kid with them, and they don’t necessarily have it in for their ex but they don’t care that they’re depriving the child of contact with their other parent or that they’re breaking the law.

      Many of the people who think Lisa did the right thing would be APPALLED if, say, a Muslim mother or father abducted their child they thought Christianity was sinful and they wanted the child raised in a religious environment they approved of.

      • Maddie C August 8, 2016 / 1:13 pm

        Very good/correct points. I hope the psychological harm on Isabella isn’t too great. I really hope she, and all the other too many victims of family abductions, can one day be found and returned.

  2. michael August 7, 2016 / 11:53 pm

    OH MY GOD!! An acquaintance of one of my friends is MISSING! The circumstances are pretty weird. Last seen on May 2. Google: Oulay (Bobby) Thanavong

    • Meaghan August 7, 2016 / 11:59 pm

      That’s terrible; I’m sorry to hear it. I hope Bobby turns up alive and well, and SOON.

      • michael August 8, 2016 / 8:33 am

        Thank you. I’m talking to my friend to try and gather more details because there isn’t much on the internet right now. Oulay was originally from Thailand but was living in (I believe) Aiken, South Carolina. All indications are that he traveled to California to visit his sick mother (cancer), but never arrived to see her. His luggage was sent to Sacramento, CA, but never claimed. Very weird, he could literally be anywhere.

      • Meaghan August 8, 2016 / 9:26 am

        I wonder if this might be a dissociative fugue situation. A dissociative fugue is basically where, under stressful circumstances (a seriously ill relative would qualify), a person loses their memory and just kind of wanders off. I know of a case where a straight-A student at UCLA, who had no history of mental illness, vanished without a trace and turned up in Mexico a couple of months later. A local family there had found him wandering around with no money and no idea who he was or how he got there, and had taken him in.

  3. michael August 7, 2016 / 11:55 pm

    Btw, I remember reading this case. Lisa Miller is clearly a nut.

    • Celeste Keenan August 8, 2016 / 1:26 am

      She is. Isabelle has the right to know both of her mothers, and her left behind family members.

  4. Cecilia October 7, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    Isabella is 14 years old now. In four years she’ll reach the magic age of 18. At that point, she’ll legally be an adult by US law. Then the custody battle will be over. It will be up to Isabella whether she wants to have anything to do with Janet Jenkins or not. Jenkins won’t be able to do anything about it at that point.

    • Celeste Keenan October 23, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      It doesn’t matter. Lisa Miller was wrong in this case. Not only was Lisa brainwashed by Reverand Falwell’s church but she also forced this upon Isabella. Lisa Miller is not only a danger to herself she’s a danger to Isabella as well.

      • Meaghan October 23, 2016 / 9:52 pm

        Amen, Celeste. Parental abduction is child abuse.

  5. Jason January 3, 2017 / 3:55 am

    I know oulay he was my boyfriend since he was 18. The LAPD have him as a sex slave. They also try and make him murdered people by torturing him people he loves

    • Jason January 3, 2017 / 3:56 am

      My mother bonnie Beatrice mosby Underwood is also in same position

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