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Missing Cass County children are found safe in Canada

Updated: 2013-10-16T23:53:01Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

All three missing Harrisonville children have been found safe in Canada, authorities announced Wednesday, and their mother has been charged with unlawfully taking them.

At a Cass County news conference Wednesday afternoon, authorities said the mother, Sherri L. O’Neal, was jailed in Canada. Also on Wednesday, Cass County prosecutors charged O’Neal, 44, on a felony warrant with interference with custody.

O’Neal had not been in contact with the children in the three years before their disappearance last week, according to Maj. Jeff Weber with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. She reportedly had traveled to Cass County from Alaska.

Weber said the father was excited that his children had been located and were safe.

“His first question was, ‘How long is it going to take to get my kids back?’” Weber said.

Tabitha Davis, 11, Jasper Davis, 14, and Jordan Davis, 15, were reported missing last Friday by their father and were believed to be with their noncustodial mother, according to the sheriff’s office.

According to court records, O’Neal’s address was listed in Kansas City, North. But she had last been known to be traveling in an RV with Arizona license plates or a black Mercedes SUV with Alaska license plates, perhaps along with five German shepherd dogs.

A witness told investigators that on Friday, she saw a black Mercedes SUV parked in the driveway of the children’s home. The witness saw one of the children put something into the SUV and then get into the vehicle quickly. That vehicle was later found at a south Kansas City auto dealership. Investigators obtained a search warrant and recovered a cellphone that belonged to the daughter, court records said.

Calgary authorities contacted Cass County on Tuesday night, saying O’Neal and one of the missing boys had visited a shelter earlier that day for financial assistance. O’Neal allegedly told the social worker that she had sneaked across the Canadian border to escape an abusive relationship. The worker thought the story was suspicious and called police.

Authorities tried to find the children through their cellphones, but the devices were turned off and the batteries had been removed, Weber said. The children were unable to contact their father, he said.

Weber said authorities were continuing their investigation while working to return the children to Harrisonville.

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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