NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The parents who snatched their eight children from foster care in Queens are speaking out. The couple, who set off a nationwide manhunt, beat the charges after spending two months behind bars.
On Tuesday, they spoke with CBS 2’s Christine Sloan in an exclusive interview to let people know why they did it.
“How do you kidnap your own children?” asked Shanel Nadal.
That’s what Nadal and her husband, Nephra Payne, were accused of doing — stealing their eight biological children from a foster care facility in Queens.
“I did nothing wrong. I love my babies so much. They’re all I got in this world, nothing else matters,” Nadal said.
The Hollywood-like escape set off a nationwide manhunt that ended in Harrisburg, Pa., when federal agents descended on their van.
It all began a week earlier when the couple, knowing all of their children would be together in one place during a planned, unsupervised visit, decided to snatch them.
“We went straight out of the front of the agency,” Nadal said.
They didn’t have much of a plan after that. They drove to South Carolina, hoping to stay with family. Then they went to Pennsylvania while spending a week on the run.
“I did that for my babies,” Nadal said.
The couple claims some of their sons were being physically, as well as sexually, abused in foster care. They said they had no choice and had to protect them.
“Me and my wife was there — we created them and I felt that was our personal responsibility,” Payne said.
The Administration for Children’s Services wouldn’t comment on the abuse allegations and said it received no complaints. The children were put into foster care in 2009 so it could investigate allegations of abuse against the couple, according to the agency.
Sloan: “Did you hurt those children?”
Nadal: “Did nothing but love our children — like really love them.”
Payne said ACS took their kids after a simple trip to the emergency room came as a result of two of their children getting into a fight.
“I felt they’re kidnapping my children and there is nothing I can do,” Nadal said.
But the couple said they would do it again. They said the seven days they were reunited with their children were “beautiful.”
“They kept kissing me…that was all I needed,” Nadal said.
In the end, the feds tracked them down through their credit cards. They spent more than two months in jail, but it could have been life. Now that they’re out, they said they just want custody of their kids.
“They can take everything in the world away — just give me my babies back. That’s all I need and then I will have my light back,” Nadal said.
The couple will be in court on Dec. 15 to try and get visitation rights back and eventually, their attorney said, full custody. For now, they remain in foster care.
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