STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Investigators sent out an alert for a Virginia mother who is accused of abducting her four children, WTVR reports.
“Recent developments in the investigation have led investigators to believe the children may now be in danger,” investigators say.
Melody Bannister, 34, told deputies that her children were being abused by a family member, and an investigation started in early June 2019, a Stafford County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said.
Bannister’s four children are Genevieve Bannister, 13, Janelle Bannister, 12, Vivienne Bannister, 11, and Peter Bannister, 7.
After deputies and child service officials investigated, they discovered the allegations weren’t based in fact.
Deputies say that after the investigation finished, Bannister left Virginia with the children on a planned vacation and never came back.
Custody was then granted to the children’s father by the Stafford County Juvenile Domestic & Relations Court.
“Bannister refused to return the children and subsequently petitioned the courts in Alabama requesting custody be issued to her there,” the spokesperson said. “The courts in Alabama heard the case and also ordered Bannister to return her children to their father back in Virginia. Bannister absconded from the state of Alabama with her four children and has not been seen since.”
She is wanted for one felony charge of violation of a court order, four misdemeanor charges of abduction and one misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report.
“The U.S. Marshals Service and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children became involved in the investigation several months ago,” the spokesperson said. “Banister and the children were last seen on August 20 in Moulton, Alabama.”
They have been seen at the following locations over the past several months:
- Birmingham, Alabama
Greenville, South Carolina
Shell Lake, Wisconsin
Raleigh, North Carolina
Aransas Pass, Texas
Corpus Christie, Texas
Law enforcement officials are asking anyone with information to contact: 1-877-WANTED2.