Longform

Photos of a Baby With Confederate Flags and Guns Couldn't Persuade a Court to Prevent a Kidnapping

UPDATE: Since this story was published, the judge in charge of this custody case, Steven Feren, lost his seat in August's elections. Robert Baumann has still not seen his daughter, Lilly.

The clock reads 20 to 6 as Robert Baumann wheels his Ford Escape north. The 26-year-old is beat-tired, his wide shoulders slumped like a bent clothes hanger from another day installing air conditioners in South Florida megamansions. His nerves, though, are on red-alert. Today, he's going to pick up his daughter, Lilly.

It's taken a full year of courtroom battles with his ex, Megan Everett, to hash out this arrangement, and even though a judge finally ruled that the beaming, curly-headed 2-year-old would split time with her parents, Baumann is anxious. Concerns constantly roll around the back of his head: Megan's YouTube-ranting, gun-toting new boyfriend; her sudden obsession with the Confederacy and antigovernment activism; and worst of all, the photos Baumann found on Facebook of his daughter playing in piles of bullets.

Just thinking about those images sets him stewing again. How could a judge see his kid surrounded by a heavy-duty arsenal yet still let Lilly stay part-time with her mom and her boyfriend? He shoves the thought aside.

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Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson