The search for eight children taken from a foster care facility in Forest Hills on September 19 ended at around 10:30 p.m. Monday evening in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Police officials say that Shanel Nadal, 28, of Manhattan, and her husband Nephra Payne are awaiting extradition back to New York City after being found with their eight children – seven boys named Nephra and one 11-month-old girl – preparing to spend the night in a van with no license plates. The Daily News has reported that a joint police effort between NYPD, South Carolina State Police and the FBI were able to track the family through their cell phone and swipes on their welfare benefits card.
While the eight-child escape from a supervised visit with foster parents and Forestdale officials was dramatic enough, Norman Steiner – the parent’s attorney – claims that while in the city’s custody the children were abused. He states that the planned abduction was in the best interest of the children.
Steiner did not release any details regarding the alleged abuse but says he fully expects his clients to be exonerated from any crime.
An attempt to visit and interview Riverdale officials was refuted by workers at the agency who said the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) would speak on their behalf. They issued two statements regarding the apprehension of the family and the allegation of abuse on the city’s behalf:
“It is wonderful that the Payne children have been located and are now safe. Specially-trained staff from ACS will bring the children home to New York City. . . An investigation by ACS is already underway into how the children could have been abducted from the foster care agency during a supervised visit. ACS is reviewing with the foster care agency the protocols it has in place for supervised visits and its campus security system. We will share the results of that investigation once it is completed . . . We are aware of the allegations currently being made by the parents and we take all allegations of abuse seriously. Our immediate concerns are for the well being of the children. We have appropriate mental health professionals working with the children, including experts in trauma and a range of other disciplines.”
The parents will be charged with kidnapping, custodial interference and child endangerment, according to Associated Press reports. Nadal was arraigned and bail was set at $200,000.