I got some clarification on what, exactly, can be done if disappeared mother Molly Selby is found. There are warrants on her in Washington state for violating her probation, so any local law enforcement agency can pick her up on those and hold her.
And that's exactly what her mother, Cathy Winters, would want. Jail might just save her life and give little Patrick -- who was born at about three and a half pounds on November 27 in a bathroom -- a chance at someday knowing his mother.
But the new grandmother is frustrated. She can't get much information from Memorial Hospital Pembroke and, even though she and other relatives are the closest thing to family the baby has, they are being shut out of Patrick's life. Why? Because the baby is now a ward of the state and, without the mother's permission, the granparents have no
custody rights. "The state is a good thing," says Winters. "Had they not been there who knows what would have happened? At the same time I don't think they understand what a family goes through."
She will have to fight in court to gain legal custody of Patrick and, even then, she may not be able to care for him, depending on how bad his health problems might be. He was born two months premature and with cocaine in his system. Winters says she spoke to her daughter the last time two weeks ago, when Molly was in the hospital with her baby. "She said she was sitting down on the toilet and thinking she had to go to the bathroom and then she had the baby," Winters says. "It happened that fast. She was so high on drugs she didn't know what was happening."
At the end of the conversation, Winters, in a fit of very understandable anger, hung up on her daughter: "I was just so angry at what she'd done. I wish now I would have said, 'I love you.' "
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Molly had been traveling with a carnival, but Winters believes she's still in Broward County. I wondered if BSO's Child Protective Services, which has a social worker on the case, would want to be notified if Molly is spotted. BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said the staffer on the case is now more interested in the baby, not the mother, and wouldn't want to be notified.
I thought that was weird (since it would seem a child's welfare would be at least somewhat connected to the welfare of his or her mother). But hey, what are you going to do? It's the bureaucracy. But Coleman-Wright said Molly could be picked up on the Washington warrants.
"My daughter needs to be put somewhere instead of being let out by the system," says Winters, who is naturally daunted by the idea of leaving her rural life in Washington to navigate hectic South Florida's legal system. "Being on probation means nothing to her."
She said the ordeal has made her life hell, but that a couple of days ago, she forced herself to bring out some Christmas decorations. "I have to have Christmas," she says. "I don't feel up to it, but I have to do it."