MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — A foster parent who is accused of kidnapping a Mount Vernon 5-year-old told Child Protective Services (CPS) a week before the boy went missing that she was moving across the state.
The Mount Vernon Police Department began searching for the boy, who is only identified as “ND” in probable cause documents, on Nov. 28.
Foster parent Amanda M. Dinges, 35, met with the boy’s biological mother and CPS workers Nov. 15, according to probable cause documents. CPS recommended the boy’s biological mother have overnight visits for a few weeks starting on Nov. 25. The group planned a meeting in December to discuss expanding the visits.
The next day, Dinges told Sky Valley CPS that she needed to have her teenage foster child removed from her home before she started a new job across the state on Nov. 21. Police say Dinges told CPS workers that the 5-year-old had already been removed, which he had not.
CPS removed the teen from Dinges’ care on Nov. 18.
On Nov. 21, managers at Dinges’ apartment found the keys to her unit in the office, which they believed were returned over the weekend. There were still large pieces of furniture in the unit, although managers told police that clothing, bedding and toiletries had been taken.
Police believe the 5-year-old had not been in school since Nov. 21, and he missed his physical therapy appointment two days later.
When the boy didn't show up to the scheduled visit with his biological mother on Nov. 25, she contacted her caseworker, according to Brittany Tri, the biological mother's lawyer. Due to the holiday weekend, the worker saw the message on Nov. 28, and CPS alerted police to concern about the child’s safety.
Dinges has not responded to phone calls or emails from apartment managers, CPS or Mount Vernon police. Investigators said she disconnected her phones.
Dinges was charged with second-degree kidnapping and a warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 29.
Foster parents are required to provide change of address information to the state.
Tri said she raised concerns about this foster placement in July, because "they [the foster family] made some comments insinuating that the child was already a member of their family and that seeing his mother was too inconvenient and a nuisance to them."
Plans had been in the works for months to reunify the child with his biological mother, according to Tri.
In July, the mother was granted unsupervised visits and had been having them for several months. In September, the judge and legal parties agreed to make a primary plan to return the child to his biological mother. At the beginning of November, the mother got housing and moved in, Tri said.
"My client was doing very well, following everything the court and [Department of Children, Youth and Families] DCYF was asking of her," Tri said.