Tag Archive | "lena lunsford"

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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Judge orders mother of missing W.Va. girl to live apart from husband

ELKINS, W.Va. — A woman whose 3-year-old daughter has been missing for more than two months was ordered Monday to live apart from her husband after he admitting buying and using synthetic drugs called bath salts.

U.S. Magistrate John Kaull also ordered 29-year-old Lena Lunsford to undergo drug counseling while she stays with her mother in Walkersville and awaits trial on federal welfare fraud charges. Prosecutors had asked for home incarceration, but Kaull denied that request.

Prosecutors accused Lunsford of violating two conditions of her pre-trial release — that she refrain from using bath salts and other drugs, and that she report any and all contact with law enforcement to her probation officer.

Kaull ruled that Lunsford violated one of those terms by failing to report her Nov. 1 interaction with a state trooper but said there was not enough evidence to conclude the bath salts called “Sextacy” were hers.

Lunsford and her husband, Ralph, were caught with the drugs outside a Clarksburg paraphernalia shop. But Ralph testified Monday that 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.

“She didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I never told her I was going to buy it.”

During the nearly two-hour hearing, Trooper Dennis Cayton revealed that State Police have had the Lunsfords under steady surveillance since their daughter Aliayah vanished from the family’s rented home in Bendale on Sept. 24.

Authorities have been tightlipped about their investigation but are treating her disappearance as a crime. They’ve named no suspects, made no arrests and refused to say what they think happened to the girl.

But Ralph Lunsford’s testimony suggests he’s been under scrutiny.

“I’ve been questioned by authorities day after day for the last month or two,” he said when asked about the details of his discussion with Cayton earlier this month. “I can’t remember every conversation.”

Cayton said he and other officers have followed the couple on multiple visits to the Rosebud shopping plaza since Aliayah’s disappearance. Lena Lunsford always drove, and Ralph Lunsford always entered the store.

On Nov. 1, Cayton said he anticipated where they were going and waited for them at the shop. Cayton said they arrived within five minutes, and when he later asked Ralph Lunsford what he’d bought, he produced a $52 package of bath salts from his wallet. The 500 mg pouch is touted as a combination of Viagra and the club drug Ecstasy.

Lena Lunsford didn’t express any surprise about her husband’s purchase, Cayton said.

U.S. Magistrate John Kaull says Lena Lunsford must also submit to drug counseling while awaiting trial on federal welfare fraud charges.

The magistrate, however, said that lack of reaction could indicate either self-control or knowledge of what her husband had.

Nor is it yet clear whether the bath salts are even illegal under West Virginia law. That will be determined by its chemical composition, and Cayton said he’s still awaiting the results of lab testing.

Ralph Lunsford said he started ingesting the drugs about a year ago but denied he did it to get high.

“It just gives you more energy,” he said.

He acknowledged using about one packet of bath salts a week but said he didn’t know the difference between a brand that sells for $27 and the higher-priced variety. He said he never bought the drugs for his wife, never shared them with her and never discussed them with her.

“She takes me places and don’t ask me questions about what I’m doing,” he said.

Lunsford said his wife has not taken him to the Clarksburg shop since Nov. 1 and said the two have been living apart since they were evicted from their home.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Morgan said the landlord claims he is owed more than $1,400, suggesting the couple were at least three months behind on rent.

“So you haven’t been paying rent, but you’ve been buying bath salts?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’d say you’re right,” he answered.

Weeks after their daughter’s disappearance, Lena Lunsford was indicted on multiple counts of welfare fraud, accused of swapping credits on her food stamp card for $50 cash five times in two months. She has pleaded not guilty.

The Lunsfords and public defender Brian Kornbrath refused to speak to reporters after the hearing.

Lena Lunsford has seven children, including Aliayah and infant twin girls.

The older children range in age from 9 months to 11 years old and have been in the custody of state child-welfare authorities since Aliayah disappeared. Authorities and attorneys have declined to comment on the status of the newborns.

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Aliayah: Bruised face photograph

We’ve all seen the bruising on Aliayah’s face on the latest poster released by the West Virginia Fusion Center and available for download (here).

Quick to quash the rumors, Jeff Killeen of the FBI was widely quoted in the press:

FBI Special Agent Jeff Killeen said investigators don’t know what caused it or why Aliayah Lunsford is missing four teeth.

He said children can have marks and missing teeth for many reasons. But Killeen said the photo was taken shortly before Aliayah vanished from her Bendale home and is one of the last known images of her.

The bruising has led to obvious speculation on the Internet that Aliayah was physically abused. It has also led to questions asking about her hair because the poster image has been cut out of a larger photograph.

To this end, Aliayah’s aunt Vickie Bowen is quoted as saying:

Vickie L Bowen Randy talked to Jo Ann and this is what he told me. Jo Ann said the picture was taken on July 10th on her cell phone. That she is not sure who took the picture, but that Aliayah was running and ran into a door facing causing the bruising. She said she had to sign a release to let FBI use this photo and asked for it to be edited. She said they told her they would try. It was edited to take other people out of photo. Randy said he and his wife were at JoAnn’s when she signed the release. Randy states that Aliayah was not abused while in Jo Ann’s care.

West Virginia Fusion Center's image on their latest Missing Poster for Aliayah Lunsford.

We do not have a link to the source of this quotation from Vickie Bowen, but if true, then Jeff Killeen’s comment that the photograph was “taken shortly before Aliayah vanished…” is relatively wide of the mark. July 10 is over 70 days before September 24 and 2 1/2 months could be construed as quite a long time before the toddler disappeared.

Given the background, living conditions and criminal history of Lena and Ralph Lunsford, there is a high probability that Aliayah was abused or at the very least a neglected child. After all, the children were all potentially deprived of food if Lena was selling her food stamps for cash at less than half price.

However, regarding this photograph, let’s tread cautiously before jumping to the wrong conclusions.

The original photograph that was used to create the poster image used by the West Virginia Fusion Center. Aliayah is having her hair brushed into a ponytail by her aunt on July 10, 2011.

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Bath Salts Abuse and Use

Use and Availability of “Bath Salts”

A new, highly addictive designer drug labeled “Bath Salts” contains Mephedrone and MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone). Mephedrone and MDPV are stimulants that act much like Methamphetamine and Cocaine, but produce the added effect of hallucinations. “Bath Salts” are known by many names such as Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning, Hurricane Charlie, Vanilla Sky, Charge, and White Knight. “Bath Salts” are snorted, injected, or smoked primarily by teens and young adults due to their widespread availability on the Internet, local convenience stores, and smoke shops. The product is carefully labeled as not for human consumption, but that is precisely why drug manufacturers have placed this extremely toxic substance on the market.

Major Side Effects of Using “Bath Salts” for Drug Use

“Bath Salts” are known to produce side effects similar to Meth and Cocaine such as elevated heart rate, hypertension, irritability, extreme paranoia, delusions of super-human strength and invincibility, hallucinations, suicide, aggressive and violent behavior, and possibly even murder.

Addictive Properties of Bath Salts

“Bath Salts” are so addicting that users crave the drug even after experiencing a trip to the Emergency Room with psychotic episodes brought on by hallucinations and delusions of super-human strength. Unlike Meth and Cocaine, however, standard Emergency Room procedures for treating Meth and Cocaine overdose do not work well with “Bath Salts.” Administering Valium to patients suffering from the toxic effects of “Bath Salts” does not result in positive responses to treatment.

Dangers of Using “Bath Salts” for Drug Use

Standard hospital treatment for drug overdose does not work effectively on “Bath Salts.” Even when patients come off of sedation, behavior has been shown to revert back to the uncontrollable state of psychosis. As a warning to young people experimenting with this drug, the effects of “Bath Salts” may be permanent. Cases of violent suicide are numerous and growing fatalities are reported to Poison Control authorities. For all intents and purposes, this drug is extremely toxic and may result in permanent brain damage. The chemical ingredients found in “Bath Salts” are also found in various forms of insecticide, as well as chemical treatment programs designed to kill aqueous algae and fungus. Further research is required in order to determine the long-term effects of using this drug and how to effectively sedate patients suffering from toxic psychotic states.

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Officer says missing girl’s mom had drugs, needs substance abuse treatment

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The mother of a 3-year-old Lewis County girl missing for nearly two months should be ordered into substance abuse treatment because a state trooper caught her with synthetic drugs called bath salts, a probation officer says.

In a petition filed with U.S. District Court in Clarksburg, pretrial services officer Brian Kilgore also asks the court to order home incarceration for 29-year-old Lena Lunsford while she awaits trial on federal welfare fraud charges.

The petition argues court intervention is necessary because Lunsford is demonstrating “a lack of willingness to fully cooperate with the conditions of her supervision, and she appears to be selectively censoring what she wants her supervising officer to know.”

On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate John Kaull scheduled a bond revocation hearing for Nov. 28 in Elkins.

Lunsford’s public defender, Brian Kornbrath, didn’t immediately return messages. Her private attorney, who is not handling the criminal case, declined comment.

Lunsford’s daughter Aliayah vanished from their Bendale home Sept. 24 and has not been seen since. Investigators are treating her disappearance as a crime but have yet to name any suspects. Nor have they said what they believe happened to the child.

Weeks after Aliayah’s disappearance, Lunsford was indicted on multiple counts of welfare fraud. Federal prosecutors say she swapped credits on her food stamp card for $50 cash five times in two months. Last week, Lunsford pleaded not guilty.

One of the conditions of her pretrial release, spelled out in an Oct. 17 court order, was to refrain from using drugs. Handwritten on the document are the words, “including bath salts.”

During a home visit on Oct. 20, Kilgore wrote, Lunsford told her probation officer she didn’t know what bath salts were and “advised that she had not been to a ‘head shop’ or like store in several months.”

Kilgore’s petition says that on Nov. 1, a state trooper found Lunsford and her husband Ralph with bath salts in a Clarksburg parking lot. The trooper said Ralph Lunsford acknowledged entering the Hot Stuff Cool Things shop and purchasing a product called “Sextary” for $52.

If Lena Lunsford argues that her husband is the sole user of the drugs, Kilgore wrote, he will recommend she be prohibiting from living with him until he completes a counseling or treatment program.

Lena Lunsford did not attend her plea hearing last week because she was in labor but she is expected to attend the bond revocation hearing.

She has seven children, including Aliayah and twin girls born last week. The older children range in age from 9 months to 11 years old.

Relatives say Lunsford lost custody of the older children to state child-welfare authorities after Aliayah disappeared, but authorities and attorneys have declined to comment on the status of the newborn twins.

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

The Associated Press


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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Lunsford Arrested in Separate Case

Mother arraigned on charges unrelated to daughter’s disappearance

By John Clise – Special to The Inter-Mountain , The Inter-Mountain

Lena Lunsford - suspected felon.

In a matter not related to the disappearance of her 3-year-old daughter, Aliayah Lunsford, Lena Lunsford of Weston was taken into custody Monday afternoon by federal authorities on a felony charge of allowing another individual to use a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card, issued to her, in her name and with her personal identification number, to purchase approximately $114.82 in food in exchange for a $50 cash payment on or about Oct. 15.

This is a violation of Title 7, United States Code, Section 22024(b). She faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the count, if she is found guilty.

According to FBI Special Agent Jeff Killeen, Lena Lunsford was taken into custody without incident and arraigned before federal Magistrate John Kaull in United States District Court in Clarksburg. She was released on her own recognizance, according to Killeen.

Killeen said the investigation into the alleged trading of cash for the use of the SNAP card and that of her missing daughter are two separate matters, and the investigation of both matters will continue as independent issues.

The matter of the alleged SNAP card abuse will proceed to the federal grand jury for action, according to Killeen.

In regards to the disappearance of Aliayah Lunsford, Killeen said the focus continues to narrow each day as investigators comb through video surveillance for more clues.

Killeen said video surveillance continues to be enhanced in an effort to find more evidence, though the investigators need to continue in a “methodical and correct” manner.

Aliayah Lunsford went missing from her family’s Dennison Street home, in the Bendale area of Weston on Sept. 24 between 6:30-9:30 a.m. Lena Lunsford reported her missing at approximately 11:30 a.m. after searching for the missing child in her vehicle.

According to Killeen, investigators are still working toward a positive outcome on the case, and they are still looking at “a small universe of individuals” regarding the disappearance.

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Aliayah Lunsford Allegedly Last Seen

  • 3116 days, 17 hours, 29 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.


What happened to Aliayah?

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