Mom, daughter arraigned on infant kidnapping in San Augustine - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Mom, daughter arraigned on infant kidnapping in San Augustine


Two women, a mom and a daughter, were arraigned on the kidnapping and injury to a child charges Friday.    

Krystle Tanner is in serious trouble, yet the 26 year old smiles upon entering her arraignment.   An unexplained action, but not as perplexing as allegedly holding a child in secrecy for 8 years.

"Krystle Tanner wanted the baby very badly. She was a very young woman , 18, 19 years old, and she wanted the child," said Gary Cunningham, chief deputy for San Augustine Sheriff's Department.

Tanner's 50 year old mother, Gloria Walker faces the same charges of kidnapping and injury to a child. Family members say she often kept the child in the various homes she lived in over the years, including ones in San Augustine and near Austin.

"Family members conspired, that's a good term, conspired to hide this child out," said Cunningham.

The lead investigator in the case gave new life to a long dormant case. Child Protective Service workers were concerned about allegations against Tanner while she was living in San Augustine with the 8 year old and infant. The 8 year old was missing and when she couldn't provide his name or Social Security number they became concerned. Cunningham's subsequent investigation led him to Houston where he linked Tanner and a long dropped 2004 Houston case. When the story was covered by media, an aunt called to say the child was with her.

The women now have court appointed attorneys. Both pleaded not guilty. "Kidnapping cases if they're not solved in the first 48 hours the victim is usually not alive," said San Augustine County District Attorney Kevin Dutton.   "And it's very unusual to have an 8 year case where the child is alive, as we found the child."

The wait for a trial continues. The next trial date in San Augustine County is in August.

Meanwhile, the child is in foster care dealing with the psychological trauma as described by investigators.

"According to what I've been informed by CPS workers in Houston he's operating at a kindergarten level even though he's 8 years old. He's never been to school. He's been absent from his parents for 8 years. He can't read or write. Never knew his real name. Never knew his real birthday. Never knew his real parents and kinda shuffled around from one home to another," shared Cunningham.

The biological parents live in Houston. They wait to meet their child.

On Friday Cunningham showed them the first picture they've ever seen of their son as a young boy. "And when I showed it to her she immediately broke down in tears."

Tanner and Walker will present their defense and may know their fate by year's end. Child advocates say it could take a lifetime for the child to cope with what's happened to him.

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