The Times West Virginian

August 17, 2013

Mother of missing girl will stay behind bars


Associated Press

WHEELING — The mother of a missing West Virginia girl will remain behind bars after violating probation for a third time, and a judge may decide next week whether to keep her there for another six months.

U.S. Magistrate James Seibert temporarily revoked Lena Lunsford’s at the request of probation officials on Thursday and scheduled a final hearing for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Wheeling.

The former Bendale resident remained in the Northern Regional Jail Friday.

Lunsford was “sternly warned” of the possibility of imprisonment and a contempt-of-court prosecution after her second arrest on probation-violation charges last month, Seibert noted in his order. He said it’s clear that she’ll likely ignore yet another warning.

Lunsford was repeatedly warned to stay away from the convicted felon who fathered what will be her eighth child. She met him at a halfway house in Wheeling after her release from prison.

Lunsford served eight months for welfare fraud after her 3-year-old daughter Aliayah disappeared from their Lewis County home in September 2011. The child has never been found, and no one has ever been charged in her disappearance.  

Court documents also show that Lunsford has also failed to make court-ordered restitution to the Wheeling YWCA where she has been living.

“She claims such actions are not willful,” the motion to revoke her probation said, “due to her being indigent.”

She began serving probation on Feb. 26 and has six more months to go.

Lunsford’s parental rights were terminated by the West Virginia courts, and her six other children are in state custody.

Lunsford, who has denied involvement and any knowledge of what happened to Aliayah, has been attending school and working at a pizza shop.

Probation officials had planned to relocate her to the Clarksburg area after she missed classes and violated other conditions of her release but relented when her treatment provider said that could have an adverse effect.