The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office says that 34-year-old Melody Bannister was arrested in Plainfield at a gas station in the 6000 block of Cambridge Way, just off of I-70. Deputies say the children were located safely and placed in DCS custody as they are taken back to their father.
Bannister had been on the run since fleeing Virginia with her four children in June 2019.
Police say Bannister reported that the children were being abused by a their grandfather, but investigators believe the claims were “unfounded.”
Shortly after the investigation, Bannister had left on a planned vacation and never returned prompting the search. When she left she had her four children: Genevieve, 13, Janelle, 12, Vivienne, 11, and Peter, 7, as well as the family dog and cat.
They weren’t seen for months.
Police say they don’t know why her husband, the children’s father, was not also going on the vacation.
An arrest warrant was issued for Bannister in August 2019.
The children’s father filed for custody in Virginia in July. The court approved his request. Police say Bannister refused to give up the children and filed a petition for custody in Alabama, the court denied her request.
The Stafford County (Virginia) Sheriff’s Office says Bannister was last seen on Aug. 20, 2019 in Alabama but had been spotted in multiple states including Alabama, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas.
Law enforcement told News 8 that they believed the children were in danger, but refused to say how.
HCSO assisted the U.S. Marshal’s Office with the arrest. Bannister is being held in the Hendricks County Jail while awaiting Virginia authorities.
Bannister denied News 8’s request for an interview.
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