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Virginia mom - on the run for months - arrested at gas station

The children are safe.
Alert issued after Virginia mom, children never returned from vacation: ‘The children may now be in danger’
Posted at 10:50 AM, Feb 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 15:48:25-05

PLAINFIELD, In. -- A Virginia mother accused of abducting four of her children was arrested Wednesday morning in Indiana.

Melody Bannister, 34, of Henrico, was arrested at a gas station in Plainfield, Indiana at about 2:40 a.m.

The children were with her and are safe, according to a Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.

Melody Bannister

Investigators in Stafford County issued an alert for Bannister and the children in December 2019 after "recent developments in the investigation have led investigators to believe the children may now be in danger."

"The investigation began in early June 2019 when [Bannister] informed deputies that her four children were being abused by a family member," a Stafford County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said in December. "A joint investigation with Stafford County law enforcement and Child Protective Services determined the allegations were unfounded. Shortly after the conclusion of the investigation, Bannister left Virginia with the children on a planned vacation and never returned."

The next month Stafford County Juvenile Domestic & Relations Court granted custody of the children to their father.

"Bannister refused to return the children and subsequently petitioned the courts in Alabama requesting custody be issued to her there," the spokesperson said. "The courts in Alabama heard the case and also ordered Bannister to return her children to their father back in Virginia. Bannister absconded from the state of Alabama with her four children and has not been seen since."

Bannister was wanted for one felony charge of Violation of a Court Order, four misdemeanor charges of Abduction, and one misdemeanor charge of Filing a False Police Report.
"The U.S. Marshals Service and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children became involved in the investigation several months ago," the spokesperson continued. "Banister and the children were last seen on August 20 in Moulton, Alabama."

The family was previously spotted in Alabama, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina, and Texas.