Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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.