Entries in Custody Hearing (2)


Custody Hearing Set for Children of Missing Florida Mom

Courtesy Blanco Family(MIRAMAR, Fla.) -- A preliminary custody hearing for the three children of missing Florida mother Vilet Torrez will be held on Thursday, marking the next step in determining whether the children will be returned to the custody of their father, who has been called a person of interest in his wife's disappearance.

Vilet Torrez, 38, was reported missing on April 2 after her children had spent the weekend with her estranged husband.  The missing mom had recently separated from Cid Torrez, her husband of 15 years, with whom she'd had years of marital problems, her family said.  The woman's car and belongings were found in her driveway.

The couple's three children, Vilet, 12, Cid Jr., 7, and Marcus, 4, were taken from Cid Torrez's custody and placed in the care of their maternal grandparents after an anonymous April 5 call alleged Cid Torrez had a gun and wanted to "end it all."

Torrez's lawyer, Richard Della Fera, told ABC News his client denies the allegation and any involvement in his wife's disappearance.

"He had nothing to do with her disappearance, and we welcome the investigation because we're confident it's going to exonerate him," Della Fera said, adding that he believed Vilet Torrez's family never liked Cid and always believed she married "below herself."

A judge is expected to rule on the custody of the Torrez children on May 10.

Tania Rues, public information officer for the Miramar Police Department, said authorities are thoroughly investigating all possible angles.

"[Vilet Torrez] did not leave on her own free will, and we believe foul play is suspected," Rues said.  She declined to name other possible angles or people who had been questioned but said Cid Torrez had fully cooperated.

Vilet Torrez had dinner plans with a male friend on March 30, Cid Torrez told ABC News shortly after her disappearance.  Torrez said his wife had a new boyfriend whom he had met and had been "around" since she was reported missing.

The missing mother's siblings said they hadn't heard of a new boyfriend in Torrez's life and said Cid Torrez had a history of being "jealous" to the point they worried about their sister's safety.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom of Missing Woman Hugs Prime Suspect After Court Hearing

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The mother of missing Florida woman Michelle Parker hugged the prime suspect in her daughter's disappearance after a court hearing Wednesday.

The hug came moments after a judge ruled that Dale Smith should get custody of twins that he had with Parker, his ex-fiance.

The children were taken away from Smith Tuesday, a day after police said he was the prime suspect in Parker's disappearance.

About the same time, police in Camden County, Ga., found the body of a white woman. It was spotted by a trucker whose vehicle broke down.

When asked whether the body could be Parker, Deputy William Terrell told ABC News affiliate WJXX, "Well that's one of the things we're looking into. We'll be talking to folks in Florida. We're very aware of that case and it may or may not be. It's really just too soon to speculate on that."

Camden County is nearly 200 miles from Orlando, Fla., where Parker was last seen.

Parker's parents said they were "disappointed" with the child custody ruling and worried about the 3-year-old twins being in an "unfamiliar environment" since they have spent their whole lives living with Parker in her parents' home.

Despite the battle over the children, Parker's mother Yvonne Stewart shared a poignant moment with Smith, 40, outside the courtroom on Wednesday. She stopped on her way out and hugged the man who is both the father of her grandchildren and the only suspect in her daughter's disappearance.

"It was an out-of-body experience, standing right behind her," the Parker family's attorney, Matt Morgan, told ABC News. "He's the prime suspect in the missing person case of her daughter, [and she's] hugging this guy and telling him she's praying for him."

Morgan said Parker's family is spending every day "in torment wondering about where Michelle is, what she's going through, if she's still with us."

When asked if the Parker family believes Smith may have harmed Parker, Morgan said, "They really hope he did not. The last thing they want is for the children to grow up knowing that daddy killed mommy."

Morgan is negotiating with Smith and his attorney Mark NeJame to come up with an agreement that would allow Parker's parents "liberal visitation" with their grandchildren and he says they are close to finalizing a deal.

The judge who presided over the emergency custody hearing said there was not sufficient evidence to remove the children from Smith's care, but that the issue would be revisited if new evidence were to arise.

Parker, 33, of Florida, has been missing since Nov. 17, the same day her appearance on The People's Court television show aired. She and Smith appeared in the episode to resolve a dispute over a $5,000 engagement ring.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio