The custody battle over the children of missing Miramar mother Vilet Torrez was officially dismissed by a judge on Tuesday as their father sought to have them returned to him from their mother's parents.
"The court has no jurisdiction at this point. There is no case," said Broward County Judge Susan Lebow.
She added that the state had originally filed a petition because it had "reason to fear the children were in imminent danger." The state has voluntarily dismissed that petition.
Cid Torrez was granted custody of his three children on Friday, but Vilet Torrez's mother, Gladys Blanco, has refused to turn them over, his attorney said Tuesday.
"She's refusing to honor the law," attorney Richard Della Fera said.
Authorities say they suspect foul play in Vilet Torrez's disappearance, and Cid Torrez has been named a person of interest.
On Tuesday night the Blanco family said so long to their three young relatives outside Trinity Church on State Road 441, where they agreed to transfer custody.
"I think they knew it was coming. We talked to them on Saturday and they knew it was going to be three more days of fun," said their uncle, Javier Blanco.
He said of Cid Torrez, "I think he's not going to let us see them."
The Florida Department of Children and Families previously handed custody to Gladys Blanco and her husband following a confidential call by a family member expressing fear that Cid Torrez could hurt himself or the children.
But late last week, the Attorney General’s Office voluntarily dismissed the court case against Cid Torrez. Della Fera said he was told the children could be picked up Saturday, but Blanco refused to give them up.
"It's like they're ripping another piece of my heart," Blanco told NBC 6 Monday.
"Child protective investigators with the Broward Sheriff's Office, the Office of the Attorney General and Miramar Police Department have ongoing concerns about the Torrez children's safety. In an abundance of caution, the children were sheltered and a dependency action initiated. Since the initial shelter of the Torrez children, our collective investigation has not produced competent evidence to support a continued dependency action," the Department of Children and Families said in an email statement.
Judge Lebow wrote Tuesday that because of the state's voluntary dismissal, the shelter order was effectively dissolved. She thus ordered the three children returned to Cid Torrez, as the law requires, she wrote.
"With this order, the court has now put to rest any doubt as to Cid's right as a parent to the custody of his children. He is very happy and thankful that he will be with them shortly," Della Fera said in an email statement. "He continues to pray for the safe return of his wife, Vilet, so that the entire family may be reunited."
Miramar Police have been searching for weeks for 38-year-old Vilet Torrez, who was last seen on March 30.
Della Fera said Cid Torrez had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance, and said he just wants to be with his kids full-time again.
The children's aunt, Julie Blanco, helped pack the kids' stuff and leave from their grandmother's Hialeah apartment.
Trinity Church is the same place where Cid Torrez had visits with his children, supervised by Department of Children and Families officials.
"They found that the interaction was very positive, it was very loving, it was affectionate, a lot of laughing, a lot of sharing of stories, so they've just mischaracterized the relationship between Mr. Torrez and his children," Della Fera said.