Plea in Kidnapping of Eight Children

The Manhattan couple that took their eight children from a Forest Hills foster care center last month pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of second-degree custodial interference. They will spend 90 days in jail and three years on probation.

Shanel Nadal, 28, and Nephra Payne, 34, were originally charged with eight counts each of second-degree kidnapping, first- and second- degree custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child when they were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Oct. 13.

“Today’s guilty plea is a just and fair disposition of this case. The defendants are held accountable for their actions and the children will be spared having to testify against their parents at trial,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Tuesday.

According to the charges, the parents sneaked out their seven sons, all named Nephra with differ- ent middle names, and 11-month-old daughter, Nefertiti, during a supervised visit at the Forestdale Agency on Sept. 19.

The children had been placed in three foster care homes after a domestic violence complaint against the parents.

The New York Times reported that the Forest Hills foster center had no problems with Nadal and Payne previously. Nadal had demonstrated she was trustworthy enough to have unsuper- vised visits with her sons. She and her children went inside to a vending machine during a super- vised visit and then disappeared.

The parent’s attorney, Norman Steiner, told the Associated Press after the arraignment that the couple took their kids because they could no lon- ger wait for the Family Court system to give them back their children. Steiner also said that one boy was molested in foster care and his siblings were abused.

The couple was arrested on Sept. 26 when officers pulled over a black Ford Econoline driv- ing through Harrisburg, Pa. and found the parents and children inside. They had initially traveled to North Carolina, where Nadal had relatives.

Nadal and Payne will begin their jail time and probation on November 11.




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