Non-Native mother takes Indian child from schoolNo Amber Alert issued
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
nativesunnews.today DUPREE – A non-Native mother from Sheridan, Wyoming, walked into a Dupree School first grade class and took her biological child against the custody terms issued through the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The incident took place after school let out on Thursday, April 5, and has left the CRST grandmother, Rose Mitchell, upset and wanting answers as to how this was allowed to happen. The child was immediately taken off the reservation and across state lines, back to the hometown of the mother, Ashley D. Preston, in Sheridan, according to the grandmother and family who have been monitoring the social media activities of Preston. According to Mitchell, she had been taking care of her granddaughter off and on since she was three months old. But it wasn’t until recently when her son Steven Mitchell turned himself into the Sheridan County Jail that Mitchell finally received custody in November 2017. Although, the child had been with the grandmother since September 2016, Mitchell said. “I raised her since she was infant age. I tried to get custody in tribal court, but they denied me every time,” said Mitchell. It was through letters to senators and representatives which finally got her the support she needed in family courts. “A congresswoman wrote to the chairman (Harold Frazier) who stepped up and put a full protection order on Elizabeth against her mother and placed her in my care. It was officially done this past November.”
The first grader was living with her grandmother and attending school at Dupree School for her kindergarten and first grades. According to Mitchell, “The mother is a drug addict and alcoholic, always partying. She abused, neglected and abandoned my granddaughter and claimed she had no motherhood for her.” The grandmother claims during the past few years, she and her son, have tried to get Ashley Preston into her daughter’s life. But those efforts did not amount to much. Mitchell claims they would take Elizabeth to visit her mother for a couple of weeks, but the mother would call and ask them to pick her back up “two days later.” One such visit landed the daughter in the emergency room in Rapid City with a penny lodged in her throat. “I have documents to prove everything I’m saying. If my son didn’t take her in, she could have died. It started to eat a hole in her esophagus,” said the grandmother. This visit to the Rapid City Regional Hospital emergency room came after three visits in Sheridan in which doctors there “kept saying she’s sick.” On the afternoon when the mother and her sister, Britney, went to Dupree School for the abduction, the duo walked into the school carrying flowers. The grandmother had been sitting out in her vehicle waiting for Elizabeth to come out after school. She did not come out. “At ten after three, she wasn’t outside when I pick her up. I called the school and asked where she was. They put me on hold. I just went inside the school,” Mitchell said. The grandmother claims the school staff had not located Elizabeth and began calling her name on the intercom and she was told by staff she might have been in the afterschool program classroom. Elizabeth was not in any afterschool program and the routine was for the granddaughter to come out to the car to go home. Mitchell said, “I stayed there. I pushed them. Finally, they talked to my granddaughter’s teacher. The teacher claimed two women came in her classroom and gave her the flowers in order to distract her.” The teacher was told by the Wyoming duo that the flowers were from an anonymous person. Mitchell said the first grade teacher had told her that Elizabeth was not responding to them or acknowledging the pair when they entered the classroom. “They were total strangers to her. Why did they take her in front of her?” said the grieving matriarch. During her phone interview with Native Sun News Today, Rose Mitchell was in between two meetings held with the principal of Dupree School. The meetings were called in order to figure out the next steps and how to bring the granddaughter home from Wyoming. “They’re going to see if the FBI or the U.S. Marshals are going to get involved,” she said. “I’m not happy with the meeting because it’s iffy. I just don’t trust the law enforcement here, but the chairman is working hard on it.”
Since taking the child, the mother and sister have been “bragging about it on Facebook,” according to the grandmother. “They’re bragging about how they got her. They had been planning this for a month, I’ve been asking for help for a month and it just falls on deaf ears.” Mitchell says she has custody through the tribe and the state had acknowledged it. “They tried to put out the Amber Alert, but the person who handles it wouldn’t put out the Amber Alert because she’s with the mother,” Mitchell said. “They don’t know the behind story about how serious she was neglected and abandoned.” The family believes that law enforcement, prosecutors and others in Sheridan, Wyoming are helping to keep the mother protected and making sure they are not going to be “bothered by the Mitchell family.” According to the grandmother, her son Steven Mitchell had tried many times to have charges brought against Elizabeth’s mother, but to no avail. “He was denied because he’s an Indian man. He brought it up time and time again. He reached out to every place he could and it seems everyone was ignoring him.” The grandmother believes race played a part in the lack of response from Wyoming authorities.
To make matters worse, on the day Elizabeth was taken from the classroom, it was her father’s birthday. The grandmother said Ashley Preston’s family member posted, ‘What a present. We took his daughter and reunited her with the mother.” A board meeting was set up for April 10 for the employees of Dupree School. This meeting was called by the principal to discuss the issues of child safety and Elizabeth’s case. “I want to call a community meeting of law enforcement, the school. My granddaughter is not the only one that the school knows about being taken. Within a month, a father walked in and took his son off the bus, illegally. He’s not supposed to do that. The child has a protection order against him,” said Rose Mitchell. The grandmother’s frustration stems from the mother’s inability to be a stable parent in Elizabeth’s life. She feels the child is in danger and looks forward to multiple agencies working together to reunite grandmother and granddaughter. Contact Native Sun News Today Correspondent Richie Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright permission Native Sun News Today