The teen turned up Thursday at the home of his mother. Mattingly Foster, who learned Tuesday her son had disappeared, said she contacted the boy’s caseworker and brought her son to meet with him. Police then arrived and took the teen into custody.
The boy had been at Valley Mental Health’s Adolescent Residential Treatment and Education Center (ARTEC) since Oct. 19, 2004, when the state removed him and seven siblings from Mattingly Foster’s home.
Third District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez had ruled the couple were being uncooperative in an ongoing investigation into whether the children were being neglected or physically abused by their parents.
In October, the other children were placed in foster homes. The teen was placed at ARTEC – designed to house juveniles who have serious emotional, behavioral or substance-abuse problems – after Valdez deemed him a flight risk.
The boy was moved from the agency’s Midvale unit to a less-secure facility in Kearns on March 3, according to his mother. Mattingly Foster had not seen her son since Feb. 8, when Valdez cut off her supervised visits with her children.
She said her son asked her to pass copies of letters he had written to The Salt Lake Tribune and other media. In the letters, one of which is addressed to Valdez, the boy said he fled because he feared being physically attacked by another teen. He said he would return to ARTEC after getting the letters distributed.
The boy also recounts threats from other teens and says he is being pressured by state workers to renounce his parents.
He says he has never engaged in any wrongdoing and simply wants “to go home with my mom and dad and my brothers and sisters more than anything in the whole world.”
The protracted child welfare case began in February 2004 after a dispute between the couple and their two oldest daughters over ear piercing. Those girls were removed from the home, and the state subsequently alleged the couple were neglectful and physically disciplined their other children. Mattingly Foster still has custody of an 8-month-old girl.
Attempts to reach Guardian ad Litem Kristin Brewer, the boy’s state-appointed attorney, were unsuccessful Thursday night.
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