There’s been an interesting development in the Miller-Jenkins case, a high-profile custody case in which GLAD has represented Janet Jenkins, a non-biological mom who sought visitation with her daughter Isabella after the dissolution of her civil union with Lisa Miller, who gave birth to the child. In 2009, frustrated by Lisa’s persistent refusal to cooperate with the visitation order, the Vermont Family Court awarded Janet full custody of Isabella with liberal visitation for Lisa. Lisa then disappeared with Isabella, who is now 9, and Janet has tragically had no contact with her daughter since then, despite her public appeal for Isabella’s return.
But it’s hard not to be a little hopeful that Janet will soon be reunited with her daughter after reading in this morning’s Rutland Herald (pay site), that the FBI has made an arrest related to the case. A man by the name of Timothy David Miller – it’s not known if he’s related to Lisa -- is accused of helping Lisa flee the country with Isabella to a beach house in Nicaragua. According to an FBI affidavit, now posted on our website, Miller is associated with Christian Aid Ministries, a missionary organization.
Miller has been charged with international parental kidnapping, and will appear in U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in Burlington on April 25 at 9 a.m.
There’s not much information beyond these facts, although we do know that Janet is profoundly grateful for this development, and hopeful. “I’m grateful to everyone in law enforcement for working so hard on finding my daughter, as well as to my attorney, Sarah Star,” Janet said today. I know very little at this point, but I really hope that this means that Isabella is safe and well. I am looking forward to having my daughter home safe with me very soon.”
Sarah is an attorney in Middlebury, Vermont, who has represented Janet in her fight to maintain her relationship with Isabella, which has involved courts in Vermont and Virginia. She received an anonymous phone tip last year that Lisa and Isabella were in Nicaragua, at the home of a man named Philip Zodhiates, which she immediately reported to authorities. Sarah has been dogged in her efforts to help bring Isabella home.
“It is clear that the government has been working hard on this,” Star said today. “Janet is very pleased and we are both hopeful that this will be a step in the right direction of bringing Isabella home. At this point we need to let law enforcement do their work, and recognize that there are still steps to go.”
We hope those steps include the safe return of Isabella to the United States – soon.
GLAD has represented Janet at the appellate level in Vermont, while our colleagues Lambda Legal represented Janet at the appellate level in Virginia.
The Advocate’s Andrew Harmon has written a great piece on today’s development. We recommend it highly.