The 13-year-old girl state attorneys relied on to build much of their case against her parents, Heidi Mattingly Foster and polygamist John Daniel Kingston, now apparently wants to be with her family.
Few details are available, but within the past several weeks the girl was moved from the care of her aunt and uncle to a foster home. Carol Sisco, spokeswoman for the state Division of Child and Family Services, said Justin and Shawna Blacksher Mattingly, appointed as the girl’s permanent guardians last July, requested the move.
Blacksher Mattingly said she was acting in the girl’s best interests, and that what the teen and the state want are two different things.
“[She] loves her mom very much, and she loves her brothers and sisters, and she needs to be with her brothers and sisters more than anything else in this whole world,” said Blacksher Mattingly. The teen “wants to be safe and she wants to be with her family.”
Third District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez on Friday granted a motion by Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Nichols to place the girl in state custody. Sisco said the move involved no allegations of abuse or neglect.
Blacksher Mattingly filed a protective order on behalf of the girl and her older sister Feb. 19, 2004, after the girls said they felt threatened during a family dispute over ear piercing. The girl subsequently detailed physical and verbal abuse to state investigators.
With the exception of an infant, the girl’s siblings were removed from Mattingly Foster’s home in October after a caseworker said she and Kingston were being uncooperative in his ongoing investigation.
On April 13, Valdez ordered the state to begin reuniting Mattingly Foster and nine of her 10 children who are in state custody. The 13-year-old is not part of Valdez’s reunification order. Guardian Ad Litem Kristin Brewer said Friday that the girl does not want to go home and Brewer does not believe she should be returned home.
“At this point she would not be part of the [reunification] plan,” Brewer said. “Judge Valdez has seemed to listen to the expressed desires of the kids and [her] position is different.”
The state had proposed that the girl join some of her siblings in a foster home, but the parents’ attorneys objected after Nichols made it clear the state would not work to reunite her with the family and Anthony Ferdon, another guardian ad litem, said the girl didn’t want to go home.
“It would be extremely cruel to stick her with brothers and sisters who are working to go home and who want to go home,” said Gary Bell, Mattingly Foster’s attorney.
As for Mattingly Foster, she wants her daughter to come home, Bell said.
“She wants her home,” Bell said. “At the very minimum, if [the girl] doesn’t want to come home, her mother wants [her] to know she loves her.”
Mattingly Foster had only limited contact with her over the past year. The girl has had one visit with her mother in the past week and was allowed to visit her grandfather, Ronald Mattingly, before he died Thursday.
Kingston, who has been barred from contact with his daughter since March 2004, said Friday that he knows “she wants to come home, and I hope she’ll have the privilege of doing that very soon. Her family loves her very much and we all wish her the very best.”