Friday, February 27, 2009

Three Arrested in Cockatoo-for-Children Swap

Isn't this is free market capitalism? The exchange of commodities involved both parties thought fair?

Three adults have been arrested on kidnapping charges after police claim they agreed to swap a $1,500 cockatoo and $175 in cash for two children.

Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, and Paul J. Romero, 46, both of the 5200 block of Eunice-Basile Highway in Evangeline Parish, are free on a $95,000 bond on charges of aggravated kidnapping.

Donna Louise Greenwell, 51, of Pitkin, also charged with kidnapping, is being held on a $100,000 bond in the Evangeline Parish Jail.

According to Eunice Police Chief Gary Fontenot, the Eunice-area couple agreed to swap the bird for the children, a 4-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy.

Fontenot said the case remains under investigation and details remain spotty. "We are only going with what the kids have told us. It's a mess," Fontenot said Wednesday.

Police said the case began with an anonymous tip from a woman who claimed the Romeros had two children with them and she was suspicious of their story.

Eunice police detectives contacted Evangeline Parish authorities and then arranged a surveillance of the couple, eventually arresting them at the Eunice McDonald's.

According to police, the coupled admitted swapping Greenwell the cockatoo for the children.

Greenwell, who was arrested in Ville Platte, is an long-haul trucker who delivers cattle to several states. According to police, she has an extensive criminal history.

"She is a convicted pedophile. This case could have wider implications," Fontenot said.

According to police, Brandy Romero told them she had been contacted by Greenwell about the bird the family was selling. Greenwell told the childless couple she couldn't raise that much money but offered to swap children she said were hers.

While it appears the children had been living with Greenwell for about a year, police say she is not their biological mother.

Instead, the children's real mother is apparently a fugitive from the law in the Lake Charles area and investigators have not been able to locate the father.

Police believe the children may have been swapped from family to family over the past few years. The children are now in state custody.

Fontenot said police are also seeking a 17-month-old half-sibling of the children who is believed to be living with yet another family in Allen Parish.

The investigation continues and involves officials in Allen, Evangeline, Rapides and Vernon parishes as well as Eunice. Police say more arrests are possible.

Via The Daily World

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