Mother, aunt charged with custodial interference in toddler’s abduction
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — After weeks spent as a missing child, three-year-old Faith Hegge was found unharmed Monday in Yakima, Wash., while her aunt and mother were arrested in connection with her disappearance.
Yakima County sheriff’s deputies said when the two learned that Faith was going to be taken into state custody, both women took steps to conceal Faith’s location from law enforcement.
According to court documents, 58-year-old Viola DeAnda was taking care of her niece, Faith, when she learned that deputies were looking for them.
Deputies attempted to contact DeAnda on Jan. 30, but she reportedly avoided them. Instead, investigators spoke to DeAnda’s boyfriend, telling him they had the paperwork necessary to take Faith into their custody.
DeAnda’s boyfriend told her deputies were looking for her and Faith; DeAnda reportedly told her boyfriend she wouldn’t cooperate with authorities.
The next day. deputies arrived at the last place Faith had been seen, a house near Columbia Street and Fifth Avenue in Parker, Wash., about five miles south of Union Gap, Wash.
Investigators said they expected to find Faith and her aunt waiting for them, but neither were home. Deputies attempted to serve the court order to take custody of Faith more than 20 times at multiple locations with no success.
Deputies said DeAnda gave the three-year-old over to her mother, 33-year-old Melissa Hegge, knowing that she would not turn the girl over to CPS.
“[DeAnda] has knowledge of [Hegge’s] history and knew the court had ordered the child be turned over to law enforcement and CPS,” deputies said in court documents.
Deputies were concerned about Faith’s wellbeing, as Hegge is homeless, has a long history of drug abuse and is a convicted felon — including a conviction for first-degree manslaughter, according to court documents.
DeAnda reportedly left a message for CPS, saying “I gave the baby back to her mother. Good luck finding her. Now leave me the f*** alone,” court documents said.
“[DeAnda] chose to put [Faith] in danger, rather than comply with the court’s orders,” deputies said in court documents.
According to court documents, Hegge published a series of comments on a Facebook post she made Feb. 13, where she said she would not give up her daughter without a fight.
“[They] are going to have to take me to prison or kill me,” Hegge commented.
According to court documents, Hegge posted on Facebook again on Feb. 20, saying she had her daughter, that they were in hiding and that they were looking to get out of town.
Deputies said Hegge has three other children and that her parental rights have been terminated for all of them.
Both Hegge and DeAnda were arrested, charged with first-degree custodial interference in connection with Faith’s disappearance and booked into the Yakima County jail.
DeAnda was released from the jail on $20,000 bail. As of Wednesday evening, Hegge was still being held in the jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
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