BRATTLEBORO — The husband of a woman arrested this week on a 16-year-old charge of keeping her daughter away from her biological father said Friday he was surprised by his wife’s arrest.
And so was the former Windham County Sheriff’s Department chief deputy, who headed the investigation back in the late 1980s.
Police arrested Lynn R. Delozier, 48, at The Basin Farm in Bellows Falls, home of Twelve Tribes, a religious community, for custodial interference, said Windham County Detective Sgt. Sherwood Lake.
The charge stems from a complaint in 1988 from Michael Ossip that ex-girlfriend Delozier refused to abide by a Superior Court custody and visitation order with their then-8-year-old daughter, he said.
“We had no idea something like this was pending,” said Craig Delozier, the woman’s husband.
The daughter, who is now in her 20s, reconciled with her father in April 1998, Lake said, after Canadian officials contacted the sheriff’s department saying they’d found her. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Child Seek and Child Find of Canada were involved in the case.
Sheriff Sheila Prue reopened the case in February after the National Crime Information Center conducted an audit of open, missing persons and wanted subject cases.
Delozier allegedly lived in other countries until 1998, Lake said. Interviews showed that she had traveled and made her home in parts of South America for about a decade, he said.
But by this week, she was back in Vermont, he said, where police arrested her without incident. Chief Deputy Allen Weeks, who initially headed the investigation, said the tenants tended to be uncooperative with law enforcement.
The Basin Farm houses about 30 people, who raise their own food on 120 acres of farmland. The inhabitants live together in a “big farmhouse,” according to Twelve Tribes’ Web site.
Delozier was released on bail, according to her husband. He refused to put his wife on the phone, saying, “I’d rather spare her right now.”
“We have a very peaceful, calm life that we live,” he said Friday evening. “It’s hard to go and get put into a jail.”
What surprised Lake was how quickly the investigation wrapped up, he said; usually cases like this take much longer. Weeks, who Lake consulted before the arrest, said the department had fewer resources when the case first opened.
“(We) did the best we could within the court system,” said Weeks, now chief security officer at Brattleboro’s federal court.
Investigators used an active arrest warrant, he said, which dated back to Feb. 11, 1988. The court affidavit alleged that the married couple had “consistently and persistently conspired” to not comply to the Superior Court’s parental rights orders, despite repeated warnings.
The affidavit also said the couple had renamed the girl, allegedly creating a further separation between her and her father.
The girl did not at the time attend public school, the affidavit said, but was “educated” at home. The affidavit raised questions about this, saying, “While this may not in and of itself be harmful, in the context of this case, a serious question is raised as to whether it results in further reinforcing” the girl’s alienation from her biological father.
Craig Delozier said he and his wife were young at the time and thought everything was over since the girl had reconciled with her father. Lynn Delozier was 32 in 1988, according to court documents.
“It’s not like we’re living like fugitives or something,” he said. “We’re just surprised something like this is being brought up.”
Bellows Falls’ Twelve Tribes originated in 1984 in Westminster Station.
“We love to work with soil, the plants and animals, our great goal to work in harmony with the Creator of all, knowing that what we do in cooperation with nature and her Maker will not cause harm, but bring healing to the land, and ultimately to the people who consume the fruit of the earth,” the Web site reads.