Skip to main content

Grandmother says rescued girl won't return to mother

  • Story Highlights
  • Haylee Donathan will not go back to her mother, according to girl's grandmother
  • Missing Ohio girl found alive in California with mother, sex offender boyfriend
  • Grandmother received temporary custody of Haylee so Amber Alert could be issued
By Philip Rosenbaum
Nancy Grace Producer
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- A 4-year-old, whose mother took her cross-country with her sex-offender boyfriend, won't be handed back to her mother, according to the girl's maternal grandmother.

"There's no way that I would do that," Mary Watson said Wednesday on HLN's "Nancy Grace."

Watson said she plans to follow the decisions of social services agencies overseeing the well-publicized case of young Haylee Donathan and will not let Haylee see her mother, Candace Watson.

"If (she) is not allowed to see her, she is not allowed to see her," Mary Watson said. "That's the way it is going to be." Video Watch Watson say she won't hand over Haylee »

Candace Watson, 24, and her boyfriend, Robbi Porter, 27, were arrested Tuesday in a raid at The Morning Star Ranch, a Christian communal farm in a rural part of San Diego County, California.

Authorities also found Haylee at the ranch and said they plan to return the girl to her grandmother.

Haylee had been missing for 27 days and the search to find her had been highlighted by national television current-affairs shows.

The grandmother, who received temporary court-ordered custody of the girl so an Amber Alert could be issued during the search, said she had not seen Haylee since she was found because she was being examined in California. Shortly after she was found, the girl was said to be in good condition.

"I want to tell her how I love her and we all love her and want her to come home soon," Mary Watson said.

Acting on a tip from former retreat visitors who saw a billboard of Haylee in the Las Vegas area, law enforcement stormed the usually placid ranch, whose members work the land, do household chores and share Christian beliefs and teachings. Video Watch how authorities found Haylee »

The search for Haylee was sparked by authorities' concern for her safety.


Investigators say the three left Mansfield, Ohio, by car on May 28. The same day, Candace Watson and others allegedly had helped Porter escape from a halfway house, according to officials.

After she was arrested, Watson said she "was in love with him and knew she would help him any way she could," Pete Elliott, the U.S. marshal for the northern district of Ohio, told "Nancy Grace."

All About Missing Children

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print