Questions raised over Fishers Amber Alert
The Fishers mother who prompted an Amber Alert when she disappeared with her eight-year-old daughter, agreed in a Louisville court today to be brought back to Indiana to face a felony charge of interfering with the custody of the girl.
The little girl, Sophia Snow, was reunited with her father last night, after saying goodbye to her mother, 37-year-old Jennifer Ansari. Aaron Snow's attorney tells Eyewitness News, that father and daughter are now in Florida, where the father lives.
"I did not run off with my daughter," said Jennifer Ansari as she sat in a Kentucky jail, charged with interfering with the custody of her daughter. "There was nothing like, 'She was with her dad and I abducted her.' Her dad lives in Florida, 1,600 miles away and she's always with me."
That changed last Friday, when a Hamilton County judge ordered Sophia's father, Aaron Snow, would get custody of the child. That was the same day Ansari headed to her parents in Louisville, taking Sophia with her.
"It was a holiday weekend. I had just found out bad news and I had my parents for support," she said. "It's destroying our family."
"She knows she's done wrong but she was only trying to protect her family," said Wanda Wagner, Ansari's mother.
Four days later, Indiana State Police issued an Amber Alert for the little girl, after Fishers police asked for one, saying they believed the child was in danger and headed to Kentucky with her mother.
"According to the judge who issued this order, Sophia is in danger," Fishers Police Officer Tom Weger told Eyewitness News the day after the Amber Alert was issued and still in effect.
But both Ansari's current husband and her mother both believe the child was never in danger.
"I don't think Sophia was ever in danger. She was not in danger; all it was...the recommendation by court knowing she wanted to have more child support from him and he was not going to do that," said Suhail Ansari, Jennifer Ansari's husband.
"She's very worried about Sophia. She called me, she said, 'I just want to know where Sophia is going to be. Tell them to put her in foster care. Don't let her go with him,'" said Wagner.
"Amber Alerts are issued very...with a lot of judicial care in making sure that we do not abuse the system," said Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten.
However, Kentucky State Police, who knew about Indiana's Amber Alert for Sophia, did not follow suit and issue one there.
A Louisville Police detective involved in the case told Eyewitness News Amber Alerts are meant for children who are in danger. That detective said Ansari willingly contacted them and surrendered herself and her daughter without a problem.
Last year in Indiana, ten Amber Alert requests were made to Indiana State Police.
Only one, though, met the state's four criteria and was issued.
"Is the child under the age of 18? That's a steadfast requirement," explained Bursten.
A second requirement, according to state police, is that the police investigating the case must make the Amber Alert request. Third, there must be enough descriptive information about the suspect or suspect's vehicle to believe a broadcast will help.
Finally, Bursten says, "Is there a threat of injury or death? An imminent threat of injury or death to the child."
According to federal guidelines for Amber Alerts on the Department of Justice website, "Stranger abductions are the most dangerous for children and thus are primary to the mission of an Amber Alert."
Jennifer Ansari said her child was never in any danger.
"I think the big question is, 'Why? Why would you take and uproot a child from her everything she knows and everything she has known at eight years old?" she asked.
Questions she said she wishes she could ask Sophia's father and the court that gave him custody.
Eyewitness News tried to get a hold of the court order where Hamilton County Judge Paul Felix outlined his reasoning for taking primary custody away from Jennifer Ansari. That court document is not public record because it involves a minor.