UPDATE: As of 1 p.m on July 4, 2010, we now have reason to believe that Alyssa has been taken out of the country. And now, even the FBI says they need additional paperwork before they can contact the Mexican government. Our legal system is protecting a clear violation of the law and a child is in danger, but almost no one is taking any action.
My friend Marshall Harris of North Dallas has been a friend of mine for about three years. He works in the office building I once worked in and almost always has a smile for the fokes who come and go through Buildings 2 & 3 of Lincoln Centre.
As you know, shortly before Father’s Day I posted information about the fact that his four-year-old daughter has basically been kidnapped and he’s been imploring the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office to do something about looking for Alyssa Marie Harris.
Mr. Harris alleges that on May 25, 2010, his ex wife, Norma Araceli Arzola-Henshaw, (The Texas Department of Public Safety has her last name as “Arzola-Hanshaw” while the 2008 decree lists the name of her relatives as “Henshaw.”) who as you can see included, under Dallas District Court’s 303rd Judicial District’s Case 08-15205 is only “entitled to supervised visitation with the child,” picked up his daughter from his son’s and was on her way to the home of Cesar and Mary Henshaw on South Montreal Street in Dallas.
Mr. Harris says he contacted DPD about 7 p.m. the night of the 25th and again immediately after the call from Ms. Arzola-Henshaw. There was an incident number given to Mr. Harris, it’s 146750X.
Mr. Harris says that later in the day on May 26th, about 5:30 p.m. he had made arrangements to have the car being driven by Ms. Arzola-Henshaw brought to him near Lincoln Centre.
But a man arrived in the car, not her. Mr. Harris says he called 911 and two DPD officers arrived at the scene. Mr. Harris describes a conversation that he then had on the phone with Ms. Arzola-Henshaw through the man who brought him the car. Mr. Harris contends that one of the officers even talked with her and is alleging some pretty incredible things were said by one of the officers. (If you’re a Dallas-area reporter, I’ll share them with you and where you need to check.)
Meeting Mr. Harris this morning in Richardson to talk about this matter and to gather the documents of his claims together, he told me that the last time he talked with Ms. Arzola-Henshaw, he could hear Alyssa crying in the background saying, “I want my daddy,” at which time, Mr. Harris alleges that Ms. Arzola-Henshaw told her to “Shut up!”
THE 303rd JUDICIAL DISTRICT
On June 10, 2010, Judge Mary Brown ordered a writ of attachment, which essentially commands “any sheriff or constable within the state of Texas to take the body of Alyssa Marie Harris, a child, and deliver her” to Mr. Harris. A court date also was set for June 15th at 9:30 a.m. As you might expect, Ms. Arzola-Henshaw didn’t show, and Alyssa still hasn’t been found.
On June 18th, I made several calls, (as noted in my previous post) to the Dallas County Sheriff’s office asking them where Mr. Harris needed to report to have them begin to execute the orders of Judge Brown. After about eight phone calls, I finally found Ms. Cox who upon learning Mr. Harris’ address, directed us to take the paperwork to 1411 W. Beltline in Richardson and by 4:30 p.m. that day when they closed.
Well, Mr. Harris got there on time. But the office wouldn’t accept it. They told him that unless he knew the address of Ms. Arzola-Henshaw, they wouldn’t go looking for her. YGTBSM. Mr. Harris’ response was simple: “If I knew where she was, I wouldn’t need your help, I’d just go get her.”
Mr. Harris now believes a DPD detective assigned to the case is planning now to take the matter to a grand jury. Can you say more delays?
Maybe they should start actually looking for Alyssa and take care of the grand jury indictment once they’ve found her and Ms. Arzola-Henshaw.
MILK CARTONS AND POST OFFICES
I don’t hesitate for a minute to think how the tables in this situation would be turned if Mr. Harris wasn’t an African American male. I don’t think they’d be much different if Alyssa was my child. Worse, if Ms. Arzola-Henshaw was the custodial parent and Mr. Harris had kept the child now for a month and nine days, Alyssa’s photo would be on the bulletin boards at the nation’s Walmarts and on the backs of milk cartons, while Mr. Harris’ picture would be on Xeroxed copies hanging in US Post Offices. It’s unfortunate, but very true. There is just a societal prejudice when it comes to dads and custody of their kids.
The language in the 2008 decree could not be any more clearly written for peace officers, “YOU MAY USE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF CHILD CUSTODY SPECIFIED IN THIS ORDER.” It’s even in ALL CAPS so it’s emphasized and clear as a bell. It goes further, “A PEACE OFFICER WHO RELIES ON THE TERMS OF A COURT ORDER AND THE OFFICER’S AGENCY ARE ENTITLED TO THE APPLICABLE IMMUNITY AGAINST ANY CLAIM, …. REGARDING THE OFFICER’S GOOD FAITH ACTS PERFORMED IN THE SCOPE OF THE OFFICER’S DUTIES IN ENFORCING THE TERMS OF THE ORDER THAT RELATE TO CHILD CUSTODY.”
How much clearer can it get? If you follow what the decree says, you’re not responsible if something doesn’t turn out right.
So there, the burden for law enforcement is lifted. Please, please, we know you’re overworked, underpaid and you’re trying to deal with an overload in calls, bills, raising your kids, and not worrying about some nut shooting at you, but Mr. Harris has tried to do everything he knows to find his child, keep his job, and follow the procedures of law and it’s clearly not working.
Please, if a chief of DPD, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, someone, the FBI even, would look into this matter, it would be greatly appreciated.
Mr. Harris is suffering because he’s worried about the safety of his daughter. For those of you in law enforcement, seriously, if an ex had taken off with your kid and you had all the protections of the law, wouldn’t you be demanding that something be done, too? Please, I’m asking you to help Mr. Harris find his daughter. Her life may depending on it.