Wednesday, August 10, 2005

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Woman Charged In DCF Incident Accused Of Trying To Abduct Her Own Kids
August 10, 2005 By COLIN POITRAS, Hartford Courant Staff Writer

NEW HAVEN (Connecticut) -- State social workers stopped a woman from abducting her two children from state custody Tuesday, authorities said, the second such incident at a child welfare office in less than a year.

State officials said new security procedures helped thwart Tuesday's attempt.

Sherri Rather, 43, of New Haven, tried to take the children during a supervised visit at a Department of Children and Families office at 1 Long Wharf Drive, police said.

Rather showed workers paperwork that she said restored her custody rights, New Haven police spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said.

The paper actually notified her of a court date, Winchester said.Rather then grabbed her 7-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son by the arms and said she was leaving, police and DCF spokesman Josh Howroyd said.

A worker immediately called police while others followed Rather down four flights of stairs before confronting her again in the parking lot, Howroyd said.

"We want to be careful not to traumatize the kids," Howroyd said.

"We don't want to have a physical intervention unless it's necessary."

Rather tried to leave in a vehicle provided by a local social service agency, whose driver was unaware that Rather was attempting to abduct her children, Howroyd said. The driver refused to move after being alerted by as many as a half-dozen social workers who had gathered around the car.

Howroyd said the workers followed new security measures by making sure they recorded the vehicle's license plate during the visit and had cellphones handy to call police to activate an Amber Alert should the vehicle leave the property with the children.

The DCF office is located near several entrances to I-95.

Rather was arrested and charged with breach of peace, two counts of custodial interference and two counts of risk of injury to a minor. Rather was still being processed at New Haven police headquarters late Tuesday and the amount of her bail was unknown.

The children were unharmed and returned to foster care.

Tuesday's incident marked the second abduction at a DCF office in less than a year.

In December, a Chaplin man allegedly kidnapped his three young children from DCF's Willimantic office. State officials activated an Amber Alert and the man was apprehended hours later. The children were not harmed.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered a statewide security review after the December incident.

Howroyd said there will be a similar review of Tuesday's incident to see if any further changes are necessary.

An Associated Press report was included in this story.

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