NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — How could it happen?
Police continue to search for a mother who allegedly abducted her eight children from a Queens foster care facility during a visit. Now the FBI has joined the investigation, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
The questions remain: where are they and how did she pull it off?
They are the million dollar questions even the three foster mothers who cared for the eight children in three separate homes are asking as police continue the search for 28-year-old Shanel Nadal.
“She didn’t lead on that there was any problem — that’s why it’s so shocking. It’s devastating that this really occurred,” foster mother Barbara Emanuel told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.
The Payne siblings, seven brothers named Nephra and one sister named Nefertiti, ranging in age from 11 months to 11-years-old, spent the last several years living in foster care until Monday.
Nadal lost custody following allegations of abuse by the children’s biological father, 34-year-old Nephra Payne.
Police say Nadal, the children’s biological mother, snuck them out of the Forestdale Child Agency at 67-35 112 St. in Forest Hills during what was supposed to be a supervised group visit.
Police and the FBI have cast a wide net. Sources told CBS 2 that Nadal and the children’s father once lived in South Carolina and may have headed there, but they may also still be hiding in New York.
The city’s Administration for Children’s Services said it has started an investigation into the incident.
Emanuel spent the last six months caring for Nefertiti as her foster mother, but says the little girl was much more.
“We share the same birthday so there was a connection with Nefertiti and I,” Emanuel told CBS 2’s Jay Dow. “I loved her like she was my own.”
A spokesperson for the ACS told CBS 2: “ACS and our foster care agency began working with the NYPD immediately after the mother absconded with the children…We sought and received active warrants from the Manhattan Family Court for the arrest of both parents and for them to produce the children to the Court. ”
Sources tell 1010 WINS there was no adult supervision during the visit with the children at the ACS center and there were no cameras in the room.
The ACS also said that it had “initiated an investigation to determine how this incident could have occurred during a supervised visit.”
The statement went on to say that “we have during supervised visits, an agency staff member should be present at all times while still affording the family personal time together.”
CBS 2 went to the Forestdale Child Agency offices Wednesday was met by communications director Michael Fagan.
He would not speak on camera but confirmed that their investigators, with NYPD detectives, have questioned the people at Forestdale, who were supposed to be supervising the visit.
The missing children include:
Nephra Payne Male/11-year-old
Nephra Ceo Payne M/10
Nephra Shalee Payne M/6
Nephra Umeek Payne M/5
Nephra Yahmen Payne M/4
Nephra John Payne M/9
Nephra Rahsul Payne M/6
Nefertiti Payne F/11 Months
Nadal allegedly took them all and drove off in a 1996 black Chevy Suburban with the license plate number EXZ-5896.
“She really do love them, so I don’t think she will harm them,” Emanuel said. “But I just would like, please, make contact, make contact.”
Foster mother Amieka Smith cared for 9-year-old John and 6-year-old Rahsul.
“I’m still in shock, that’s why I’m on my way to the agency,” she told Guzman. “I’m very concerned about the children and the welfare of the mother and everybody involved.”
The couple currently lives in a public housing building in the Manhattanville and investigators believe both parents are now on the run with their children.
There is no answer at the couple’s apartment and police say there is no sign of them in South Carolina where they lived some years ago.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
Those with information can also call the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse at 1-800-346-3543 or visit www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us.
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