McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 11, 2013

Charges files against McAlester mother

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A felony kidnapping charge has been filed against a McAlester woman who is accused of taking her child and refusing to return him to his father, who is the custodial parent.

The kidnapping charge filed Friday against Kayla Harmon, 22, of McAlester is in addition to a previous felony charge in which she is accused of violation of a child protective order.

On the kidnapping charge, Harmon is accused of refusing to return her son, identified by police as 4-year-old Benjamin Harmon, to his custodial parent, Anthony Harmon. She is charged with keeping the child hidden and refusing to disclose his whereabouts, according to court documents.

A probable cause affidavit filed in the case states Kayla Harmon had made allegations to McAlester police about the child’s father on Feb. 2. She contacted the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and McAlester police officer Bobby Cox also contacted DHS, according to court records.

Anthony Harmon has not been arrested or charged in the case.

On Feb. 3 at approximately 9 a.m., Kayla Harmon called Anthony Harmon and told him the child was safe and sound but she would not give him a location of the child, according to court records.

On Monday, Anthony Harmon reported to McAlester police that he has full custody of the child and that the mother had picked the child up on Feb. 2 for visitation and should have had the child back by 8:30 p.m., according to records in the case.

A McAlester police affidavit states that McAlester Police Det. Frankie McClendon spoke with Kayla Harmon on Feb. 4 in reference to the child, and told her that a writ of assistance had been signed by a judge ordering her to surrender the child to law enforcement and the child was to be returned to the father. McClendon also advised her a warrant had been issued for her arrest, according to the affidavit.

Kayla Harmon allegedly said she would not return Benjamin, according to the affidavit.

“McClendon told Kayla that detectives needed to interview Benjamin and herself concerning the case,” the affidavit states. Kayla Harmon allegedly told police she was not going to return Benjamin “because she is afraid he will be placed back in the home of his father,” the affidavit states.

The affidavit also states that McClendon spoke with Kayla Harmon on three different occasions and attempted to persuade her to surrender Benjamin to authorities. It also alleges that she spoke to a television reporter on Feb. 7 and she said she would rather die or go to jail than turn her son over to his father.

McClendon said Thursday that the allegations made against Anthony Harmon have not been substantiated.

Meanwhile, Sarah Cook, who identified herself as Kayla Harmon’s mother, spoke with the News-Capital on Saturday.

Cook said that she herself had contacted the Oklahoma Department of Human Services on Feb. 2.

Cook also maintains she doesn’t know her daughter’s whereabouts.

“I don’t have any idea,” she said.

Asked if she’s concerned about her daughter and grandson, Cook said,  “I’m not concerned she would hurt him or subject him to any kind of harm.”

“What I’m concerned about is the DHS and law enforcement,” she said.

Asked about statements by police that they need to interview her daughter and grandchild concerning the case, Cook said, “They should be able to take our grandson into protective custody until an investigation is completed.” By that, Cook said she meant the child could be placed with someone with whom he’s familiar, as opposed to strangers.

Cook also referred to Oklahoma State Statute 21-567A. The first part relates what constitutes a violation of a child custody court order; the second part refers to an “affirmative defense.” It states an offender accused of violating a child custody order shall have “an affirmative defense if the offender reasonably believes that the act was necessary to preserve the child from physical, mental, or emotional danger to the child’s welfare and the offender notifies the local law enforcement agency nearest to the location where the custodian of the child resides.”

Neither Anthony Harmon nor his attorney could be reached for comment as this article was being prepared for publication Saturday.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.


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