MISSING CHEROKEE CHILDREN FOUND, REUNITED WITH FAMILY
Mother facing federal kidnapping charges
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Three Cherokee children, missing since November 2014, have been found safely and have been returned to their families. James Paul Owle (now 10), Samuel George Owle (now 7), and Evelyn Grace Arneach (now almost 2), all EBCI tribal members, were found recently living in Mexico, and their mother, Shira Elizabeth Mattocks aka Shira Elizabeth Raman is facing three counts of International Parental Kidnapping.
According to Department of Justice officials, Ms. Mattocks was arrested recently in Mexico and is currently in federal custody on her way back to the United States. She will have her first court appearance at the Atlanta (Ga.) Federal Courthouse although a date and time has not been set by press time. Following that initial appearance, she will be transferred to North Carolina to appear on the charges in the Western North Carolina District.
According to a 10-page Criminal Complaint filed against Ms. Mattocks on Monday, June 20, “there is probable cause that Shira Elizabeth Mattocks violated Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1204, i.e., International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 – at some point after November 14, 2014, when she fled to Mexico from the U.S. in an effort to evade her child custody responsibilities.”
The Complaint alleges that Ms. Mattocks had child custody disputes with two men – Jonathan Reed Mattocks, the father of Evelyn, and Donald “Donny” James Owle, the father of James and Samuel. The Complaint alleges that Donald Owle dropped off James and Samuel to their grandmother, Teresa Arneach Arreaga (Teresa), aka Teresa Lovins, in Cherokee on Nov. 14, 2014.
“That was the last time Donald ever saw his children,” the Complaint alleges. “In accordance with the custody agreement, they were supposed to retrieve J.O. and S.O. the upcoming Sunday (November 16, 2014), but neither Teresa nor Shira showed up.”
Donny Owle said on Thursday, June 23, the day after the children were returned to him and Reed Mattocks, that the families are very grateful and thankful to everyone who helped them get their children back. “We got our main goal. We got our kids back.”
Owle said the children are in good spirits, “Considering everything they’ve been through, they are doing well. They’ve been smiling and joking.”
The Complaint went on to say that Cherokee Indian Police Department officers contacted various members of Ms. Mattocks family in an effort to locate her and the children. “According to CIPD Detectives, those family members indicated they knew where Shira and the missing children were, but they (family members) were confrontational and not helpful. The CIPD investigation began to yield indicators that Shira and Teresa had fled the United States (U.S.) to Mexico…”
Shortly thereafter, charges were filed in Tribal Court against Ms. Mattocks including one count of Failure to Obey a Lawful Court Order and two counts of Custodial Interference.
Teresa Arneach was arrested at Ms. Mattock’s residence in Cherokee on May 27, 2015. Charges were filed in Tribal Court against her including two counts of Criminal Conspiracy, two counts of Custodial Interference, and one count of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order of the Court. The One Feather reported that those charges were Dismissed with Leave to Refile on March 9, 2016.
The Complaint states that Arneach’s phone was seized upon her arrest by CIPD officers. “A tribal search warrant was obtained and certain data was exploited from the phone which further validated CIPD officers’ belief that Shira had fled to Mexico. According to CIPD Detectives who reviewed the phone, there were text messages reflecting communications via a phone number which appeared to be a number from Mexico. The text messages indicated Shira was near Tamazula, Mexico.”
CIPD officers contacted the FBI in June 2015 and requested their assistance, and on July 2, 2015 an international parental kidnapping case was opened by the Bureau.
In October 2015, FBI officials interviewed Maria Arias Negrete, the mother of Jose Arias who is the ex-husband of Arneach. She allegedly told them that Ms. Mattocks and the three children were staying near her home in Tamazula, Jalisco, Mexico. “At some point, around the middle of 2015, Maria personally observed Shira and her three children temporarily residing in the area of Maria’s home residence…” the Complaint alleges. “While there, Shira was living with Maria’s grandson, David Villa Rivera, with whom Shira had developed some type of intimate relationship.”
Starting in March 2016, a confidential source began an investigation and tracked Ms. Mattocks and Rivera whereabouts through interviews with various family members of Rivera in Mexico.