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Virginia mother accused of abducting her four children arrested in Plainfield; kids safe

By Lindsay Doty

A Virginia woman who has been on the run for several months with her four children was arrested at a gas station in Plainfield around 2:30 Wednesday morning, according to Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office Captain Amanda Goings.

Melody Bannister, 34, from Henrico, Virginia has been the center of a nationwide search by U.S Marshals for several months.

She was taken into custody in the 6000 block of Cambridge Way on an outstanding warrant from Stafford Co, Virginia, according to police.

The four children were in the vehicle and unharmed. They were taken into the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office assisted the US Marshal’s Office with the warrant.

Bannister is being held at the Hendricks County jail until authorities from Virginia take over.

According to investigators in Stafford County,  Bannister had reported that the children were being abused by a family member.

When a joint investigation with child protective services was completed,  Bannister packed up the kids for a vacation in June and never returned.

The child’s father petitioned the Stafford County court for custody of the children and was granted custody,” according to Stafford County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Amanda Vicinanzo.

Bannister petitioned a court in Alabama for custody. She was ordered to return the children to their father but never did.

She had been spotted in several states while on the run.

In December, police issued an alert saying the children may be in danger.

The US. Marshal’s Office is expected to issue a statement later today.

Update Feb. 13:

The case stems from an investigation that began in early June 2019 when a woman identified as Melody Bannister informed deputies that her four children were being abused by a family member.

After allegations were determined to be unfounded by Stafford County Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services, Bannister left Virginia with the children on a planned vacation and never returned, according to investigators.

The U.S. Marshals Service and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children became involved in the investigation several months later following the father’s granted petition to the Stafford County Juvenile Domestic & Relations Court for custody of the children and for Bannister to return the children to Virginia.

Bannister refused to return the children and subsequently petitioned the courts in Alabama requesting custody be issued to her there. The courts in Alabama heard the case and also ordered Bannister to return her children to their father back in Virginia. Refusing the courts’ order, Bannister absconded from the state of Alabama with the children.

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