NEW: Suspect gave "fabricated, misleading" info to authorities, a deputy sheriff says
She was arrested this week for allegedly kidnapping a baby in 2004 in Houston
Child welfare agents learned last year the boy "did not know his age," an affidavit says
Houston police investigated the boy's disappearance, but dropped the case in 2006
Texas child welfare authorities learned nearly seven months ago that an 8-year-old boy now alleged to have been kidnapped as a baby “did not know his age or how to spell his name,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained Friday by CNN.
The warrant, issued Monday for a kidnapping offense, led to the arrest shortly thereafter of Krystle Tanner, 26, in San Augustine, Texas.
On Thursday, Juvenile Judge Mike Schneider ruled at a temporary custody hearing that the child, Miguel Antonio Morin, must remain for now in state custody, said Texas Child Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins.
Tanner is suspected of kidnapping Miguel, then 8 months old, about 7½ years ago in Houston. San Augustine is about 165 miles northeast of Houston.
Her arrest came nearly seven months after Child Protective Services received a report regarding an “unknown male child who was approximately 8 years old” and living with Tanner, her boyfriend and their 5-month-old child.
“The report … alleged that Tanner and her boyfriend had smoked marijuana in the presence of the children and had physically abused the unknown male child,” San Augustine Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham said in the arrest warrant affidavit. “The report also alleged that the unknown male child was not enrolled in school and did not know his age or how to spell his name.”
A sheriff’s deputy visited the residence days later, on August 31 of last year. Tanner told them various things about the boy during that visit, including that she had taken him to “his mother in Austin two months prior,” had taken him “to Austin the prior week” and that he was “her brother.”
“Tanner and her boyfriend provided limited, contradictory and suspicious information concerning the identity of the unknown child and his whereabouts,” according to the affidavit.
Four months later, law enforcement authorities again engaged in the case, at the request of a Child Protective Services investigator after Tanner “continued to provide false, misleading and contradictory information” to that agency.
Cunningham said Friday that, at that point, the sheriff’s office was specifically asked “to conduct a missing person’s investigation.”
The next day, Tanner’s cousin told a sheriff’s deputy that the boy – who went by various names, including the nickname “Dirty” – apparently had never attended school. The cousin said Tanner told her “a friend gave her the little boy.”
Tanner herself offered yet another account of how she’d gotten custody of the child in an interview that day with authorities.
“Both agencies received fabricated, misleading information from Krystle Tanner concerning the identity and whereabouts of the missing child,” Cunningham told Nancy Grace of CNN’s sister network HLN, referring to his sheriff’s office and Child Protective Services.
On March 7, a Child Protective Services investigator told the San Augustine Sheriff’s Ofice that he had identified the boy as Miguel Morin. He also had located the woman thought to be the child’s biological mother, Auboni Champion-Morin.
“Our primary focus was to get the child, who is the victim in the case,” Cunningham said, adding Tanner had “by her own admission (tried) to keep the child under the radar and out of the hands of CPS and police.”
The boy was not with Tanner when she was arrested. Several law enforcement agencies, as well as Crimmins from Child Protective Services, said Tanner’s sister called authorities this week to tell them Miguel was safe and with her, and the boy was then taken into state custody.
The child will remain in state hands pending a thorough investigation and a DNA analysis of him and his biological parents, according to Crimmins.
Champion-Morin said this week that, in November 2004, she and Tanner had lived in the same apartment building, and that – with five children then under age 4 – she had asked Tanner to watch young Miguel one night. Tanner was a high school student at the time and the boy’s godmother.
When she went to pick up her infant son the next morning, he and Tanner were nowhere to be found, Campion-Morin said. She said Tanner’s mother told her the two had left the state.
Champion-Morin said she then contacted police.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit for Tanner, Tanner’s family members were “unable or unwilling to provide definitive information” on where the two had gone.
While authorities were “extremely close” to filing kidnapping charges then against Tanner, none were filed, according to Cunningham.
Instead, law enforcement agents requested additional information, and Houston Police Department investigators, according to the affidavit, characterized the missing boy’s parents as “evasive and uncooperative.”
The police department closed the case in August 2006, something that Champion-Morin said she never knew.
In fact, the mother said she had called Houston Police several times to check on the case over the years and was always told she had a new police contact and the case had been assigned to someone else.
“There is no indication that anything other than perfunctory efforts were made to locate Tanner or the missing child,” the San Augustine deputy sheriff said in the recent arrest warrant affidavit, about the initial efforts to locate Miguel Morin.
Houston Police Department investigators are reviewing the case, including looking into why an Amber Alert was never requested, spokesman Kese Smith said Wednesday.
CNN’s Tracy Sabo, Carma Hassan and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.