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Minnesota Woman Charged For Taking Noncustodial Son, Driving To California

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Minnesota woman is facing felony charges after her noncustodial son ran away from foster care in the Twin Cities and she drove him to California last month.

Court documents filed in Ramsey County show that Antoinette Williams is charged with taking a minor in violation of a court order and causing a child to be a runaway. If convicted of both counts, she faces up to four years in prison and fines up to $8,000.

According to a criminal complaint, Williams had her parental rights involuntarily terminated in 2019 due to prolonged neglect and failure to protect her 14-year-old son from abuse. The boy was placed in a foster home in Roseville last month.

On Dec. 14, the foster mother reported that she and the boy had an argument about the use of his school iPad. The next morning, the boy was gone, having not reported to class or gotten on the school bus.

The foster mother and the child's guardian thought it was possible he might be with Williams, as two years ago he was missing for three weeks and was found to be with his biological mother. Officers executing a search warrant found him hiding in Williams' closet. Williams was charged then with violating custody rights, but the matter was suspended so long as Williams remained law-abiding.

On Dec. 15, state investigators sent out a missing person alert for the teenager. Fifteen days later, Williams' car was spotted in Lancaster, California, just north of Los Angeles. Investigators determined that the boy was with his mother and a 31-year-old man, and the three were staying at hotels.

On New Year's Eve, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies found the three at a Best Western. Williams and the man were arrested. The teenager was found hiding under the bed sheets.

In an interview with investigators, Williams said that she picked up her son on Dec. 16 and drove him to California with the man. She said that her son had been the victim of abuse and she felt the need to protect him.

The teenager also spoke to investigators. He said that he contacted his mother on Zoom and ran away from his foster home because he didn't like being in foster care. He said he met up with his mother in Minnesota before they drove to California.

As of Monday, the teenager was still in protective custody. The court documents say he will soon be transported to the care of his legal guardian.

According to prosecutors, Williams' criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault, gross misdemeanor theft, misdemeanor assault, and obstructing the legal process.

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