The custody battle over a 3-year-old girl who was reported missing nearly a year ago took another twist Friday, when the girl was brought to a Miami-Dade courtroom by her paternal grandparents and her grandmother was arrested.
Angelina Montes, who was reported missing on March 7, 2011, was brought in In grandmother Zoraida Miller's arms for a hearing at Miami-Dade Juvenile court.
The girl was immediately taken for evaluation by the Department of Children and Families. Miller was arrested by Miami-Dade Police and faces charges interfering with child custody. She was released on bond $5,000 on Saturday.
Michael Grieco, the attorney for Miller and the girl's father, Samuel Montes, said Miller was arrested on a charge of interfering with a custody order. He expected the child to be able to stay with her grandfather, Jose Montes.
"Very bad, very bad, because the people you need to catch you never catch them, it's in Venezuela," Jose Montes said after the hearing.
Samuel Montes, 22, is being held in jail on $250,000 bond and a hold for immigration in the disappearance of his daughter. He was also sentenced to six months in jail for contempt of court for not helping the Department of Children and Families find her.
Grieco, said the paternal grandparents have been taking care of the child, and that she was never in any danger and was not harmed. During Friday's hearing, Grieco said the grandparents did the right thing by bringing the child in and called it a "setup."
"These people came in to present the child as they were asked to and they were rewarded with handcuffs," Grieco said after the hearing.
The charge against Montes was filed eight days after his daughter was reported missing, and he was arrested recently in Pensacola on a warrant.
According to the warrant for Montes’ arrest, Montes twice told a Department of Children and Families investigator that he would deliver the daughter to the agency, but both times failed to do so, a Miami-Dade Police detective wrote.
The girl's mother, Vanessa Churon, is in Venezuela. Montes and Churon lived in southwest Miami-Dade County with their young daughter until Churon left in February 2011 due to physical and emotional abuse from Montes, police said.
But though Churon has custody of the daughter, Montes’ mother prevented her from taking her with her, Miami-Dade Police said.
Grieco said the Montes family feared the child would be taken back to Venezuela and said the issue stems from a clash of cultures. He said both parents are of Gypsy descent.
"These families, within the Gypsy community, have a different way of doing things, and they are scared, and there's a cultural divide there that I am trying to act almost as the middleman between the government and the state of Florida and the families," Grieco said.
Churon's uncle, Lewis Evans, who also attended Friday's hearing, said his niece went against Gypsy laws.
"All the Gypsies are different, we have our own laws, we have everything together and when they separate, the first child always goes to the father," Evans said. "What she did, big mistake even though she's my niece, I'll tell you something, she's wacko."