Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home  Online Detective
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Online Detective

- February 18th, 2013  
Mother turns to Facebook and Twitter to find daughter

If it wasn’t for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Michell McGahey doesn’t know how she would have found her 5-year-old daughter, Hayden.

McGahey said she was surprised to return to Northern Michigan from Florida last spring to discover that her daughter and her daughter’s father were gone.

McGahey and the father, Brandon Beard, had joint legal custody of Hayden, so McGahey was supposed to be kept abreast of her daughter’s whereabouts.

But when McGahey visited Beard’s rented house in Beulah last May, she got a bad feeling. She said she suspected almost right away that Beard and her daughter were headed to California.

She knew that Beard had recently married a woman from California who he had met online.


McGahey said that while she suspected Hayden was headed west, she had no idea as to where in California.

McGahey, 39, said she and Beard had always been on good terms, even if their relationship didn’t last long.

When Hayden was younger, McGahey voluntarily let Beard have physical custody of their daughter because McGahey was struggling financially and she thought he was a good father.

Despite him having physical custody, however, the terms of their most recent custody arrangement, hand-written on a piece of paper filed in the probate court in Grand Traverse County, dictated that McGahey was entitled to parenting time.

Now she was left searching an abandoned house in Beulah, looking for clues.

“The house was just filled with all of her belongings and Hayden was gone,” McGahey said. “Everything that meant something to her, they left. They just took her.”

McGahey said the house was otherwise a complete mess.


McGahey said the first place she turned for answers was online, where she monitored Beard’s activity on Facebook and Twitter for clues.

In the coming days she was able to check the progress of a cross-country trip as Beard posted photos and status updates.

She said she called the police to report a parental kidnapping but was told by officers there was nothing they could do.

She said that Beard had earlier had permission to take their daughter to Las Vegas, but she believed he did not have the right, under the terms of their shared custody agreement, to take Hayden on a one-way trip to California.

At this point someone with resources might have bought a plane ticket to California to search for their daughter. Maybe they would hired a private investigator.

But McGahey is a person of modest means -- she is a painter and a house cleaner. She realized she would have to find her daughter herself, from her home in Traverse City.


McGahey said that while she didn’t know exactly where Beard and Hayden had gone in California, she wasn’t completely cut off from her daughter.

She was sometimes able to call Beard’s cell phone and speak to Hayden, but those calls were kept short.

“I’d call for her and they’d hang up on me,” she said.

She turned her sleuthing skills to Facebook and Twitter. She read status updates; she looked at who was commenting on Beard’s posts; she friended friends and family of Beard and his wife; she studied photos they posted.

“When I saw pictures of them doing anything in California, I would zoom in on the pictures” and look for street signs or landmarks or business names, she said. Anything to offer a clue about where Hayden was.


She found the mother of Beard’s new wife and friended her.

Hayden’s new step-grandmother accepted her friend request.

Though the woman apparently did not believe anything was wrong with her daughter’s and son-in-law’s arrangement in California, the woman showed some kindness to McGahey.

She sent cell phone photos of the girl. “She pretty much said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll send you pictures every once in a while,’” McGahey said. “She thought they were just normal, smiling pictures.”

In these, McGahey said, she saw evidence she believed showed that her daughter was not being treated well in her new home. She said she saw in the pictures what appeared to be bruises on Hayden’s face and body. She said she also thought her daughter looked too thin.


The best clue McGahey got was a picture of Hayden’s student ID.

McGahey asked for a photo of it, and Hayden’s step-grandmother sent one along. McGahey learned the name of the school Hayden attended -- Fallsvale Elementary School in San Bernardino County, outside of Los Angeles.

It was late September. McGahey had been looking for her daughter for months.

McGahey called the school and explained her circumstance and expressed concern about the appearance of her daughter. She said a school staff told her they were also concerned about Hayden.

“That’s when I knew the school had my back and were going to help me,” McGahey said.

Soon McGahey also had the help of a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy and a California child protective services worker.


Once the authorities were involved, that started Hayden’s journey back to Traverse City.

A sheriff’s deputy visited Hayden’s school.

“He went to the school and talked to a couple of the teachers and the teachers said something isn’t right,” McGahey said.

Officials paid a visit to Beard and his wife where they found evidence of child abuse and substance abuse, according to a report included in a court petition that put Hayden into foster care in November.

Beard and his wife denied they had been abusing drugs or that Hayden was physically abused, according to the documents.

Nonetheless, California CPS sent a caseworker to Traverse City to interview McGahey and make sure she could provide a safe home for Hayden. The same caseworker accompanied Hayden on a cross-country flight that finally arrived in Traverse City for a reunion between mom and daughter on Feb. 5.

“She almost knocked me down,” McGahey said of the airport reunion. “She came running into me, she almost knocked me over.”


McGahey’s attorney, Gerald Chefalo, has filed a motion to give McGahey legal physical custody of Hayden in Michigan, in line with what officials in California determined to be best for the girl.

Chefalo said it is remarkable how thorough California officials were in this case and that they flew Hayden across the country to reunite her with her mother.

“I would never have thought that they would do that level of investigation,” Chefalo said. “I was shocked that they did this, and I was glad that they did this.”

Brandon Beard has not responded to the probate court motion. He could not be reached for comment.

Beard’s mother, Wanda Beard, defended her son, but said she just wants the best for Hayden.

“I do not want anyone to downtalk her mother or father to her,” Wanda Beard said. “I am glad she is back in Michigan, where she has a nanna, a grandma, a greatgrandma, and cousins and uncles, plus a little sister and a big sister.”

She added: “We’re glad that she is back.

We know that there were a lot of mistakes made along the way by a lot of people, and not one person in general.”

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03.30.2013 at 07:41 Reply

you neec to get a new fact checker because this story is so far from the truth you should be embarrassed for publishing it as anything but fiction.