Tag Archive | "child-welfare"

Missing Lewis County girl’s mom admits to welfare fraud

By the Associated Press

ELKINS, W.Va. — A woman whose 3-year-old daughter has been missing for more than three months pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of welfare fraud.

Lena Lunsford, 29, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Kaull in Elkins and pleaded guilty to selling $114 worth of credit on her food stamp card for $50 cash. She had been indicted on multiple counts in October, accused of swapping for cash five times in two months.

Lunsford will be sentenced at a later date and could get as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine under the plea bargain.

Lunsford’s 3-year-old daughter Aliayah vanished from the family’s Lewis County home on Sept 24. Investigators are treating the disappearance as a crime but have made no arrests and named no suspects.

Weeks after Aliayah vanished, Lunsford was indicted in the fraud case but allowed to remain free while awaiting trial.

Last month, Kaull ordered Lunsford to live apart from her husband, Ralph, after he admitted in court that he had bought and used synthetic drugs called bath salts. Kaull also ordered Lena Lunsford to undergo drug counseling.

The Lunsfords were caught with the drugs outside a Clarksburg paraphernalia shop. But Ralph Lunsford testified the drugs were his, that he believed they were legal to buy, and that his wife didn’t know he had them until the trooper approached the car.

Still, Kaull ruled that Lena Lunsford had violated a condition of her release by failing to report the Nov. 1 interaction with the trooper.

The Lunsfords have repeatedly refused to speak to the media about Aliayah’s disappearance and have issued only one written statement through an attorney on Nov. 9.

In it, Lena Lunsford said she was cooperating with investigators and still believed her daughter was alive.

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Lena Lunsford Back in Court

Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Tim Rock
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Dec. 19, 2011 7:59 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 19, 2011 8:40 PM EST

Weston , Lewis County , West Virginia

The mother of a missing Lewis County toddler goes to court to fight for custody of her six other children.

Lena and Ralph Lunsford still refuse to plead for Aliayah Lunsford’s return.

Christmas Eve marks three months since Aliayah was reported missing. With so many unanswered questions, speculation continues to swirl in Lewis County that those closest to Aliayah know more than they’re saying.

It’s a mystery that’s shaken the small town of Weston to it’s core. Still searching for answers, protestors waited outside the Lewis County Courthouse on Monday, seeking justice for Aliayah.

“We’re just not going to stop until she’s brought home, one way or the other,” says Tina Green, who came from Morgantown to be a part of the demonstration.

“She’s missing. She’s gone. I mean, where is she at? How can you go to somewhere and laugh and giggle and act like, go about your business like nothing happened,” says Tina Smith, Aliayah’s aunt.

In an effort to reportedly regain custody of her six other children who were taken away shortly after Aliayah vanished, Lena Lunsford went before a judge in a closed door hearing, but still refuses to offer any insight as to what she thinks happened to her daughter.

“Did you or your husband have anything to do with her disappearance?” asked Eyewitness News reporter Leslie Rubin as Lena went into the courthouse. She would not respond.

“Why will you not speak with the media?” asked Rubin. She did not answer any questions.

Her husband, Ralph Lunsford, was also at the hearing and continued to try and duck the media and questions from those waiting outside.

“You have never told us anything about Aliayah’s disappearance and many fingers are being pointed at you so what do you have to say about that?” asked Rubin.

“No comment,” he responded.

Aliayah’s supporters say their silence speaks louder than anything else.

“If I could talk to Lena, you know, I guess I would say, ‘you were supposed to protect her, what happened?'” says Green.

Holding out hope for a Christmas miracle, they say they’ll fight for Aliayah until the very end.

“There’s no clue in sight, and we need answers,” says Margie Blake of Weston.

“It’s just like everything’s put on hold to find Aliayah. That’s what we want, we want her home for Christmas. Bad or good, we just need her home,” says Smith.

CPS hearings are closed to the public, so we do not know the outcome of the hearing.

There is still a $20,000 reward being offered by the FBI for information on Aliayah’s disappearance.

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Mother of missing W.Va. 3-year-old delivers twins

The Associated Press

WESTON, W.Va. —

The mother of a 3-year-old Lewis County girl missing for more than six weeks has given birth to twin girls.

Attorney Michael Woelfel says Lena Lunsford delivered late Thursday. He said Friday he believes the babies remain hospitalized.

Their sibling, Aliayah (uh LEE uh), has been missing since Sept. 24, when she vanished from the family home in Bendale.

Woelfel won’t say which hospital is caring for the babies or whether state child-welfare authorities are expected to take them.

The Department of Health and Human Resources removed four other children between 10 months and 11 years old from Lunsford’s care after Aliayah vanished.

Woelfel says Circuit Judge Thomas Keadle has issued a gag order prohibiting comment on the status of the older children, so he won’t comment on the babies.

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Aliayah Lunsford Allegedly Last Seen

  • 2274 days, 17 hours, 58 minutes ago

About Aliayah Lunsford

Age 3, Aliayah Lunsford's mother claims that she last saw her daughter at home on September 24, 2011 around 6:30 a.m.

Aliayah has brown eyes and hair, is around 3 foot tall and weighs about 30lbs.

Last seen wearing purple Dora the Explorer pajama bottoms, pink princess sweatshirt and no shoes, Aliayah's ears are pierced and she is missing four (4) front teeth.

If you have any information on her whereabouts, call the Lewis County Sheriff's Department at 304-269-8245.

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What happened to Aliayah?

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Partly Cloudy
Saturday 12/16 10%
Partly Cloudy
Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 46F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph.
Overcast
Sunday 12/17 20%
Overcast
Cloudy skies. High 47F. Winds light and variable.
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Monday 12/18 40%
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Overcast with showers at times. High 48F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.