The grandparents of a toddler ditched at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown have traveled to New York from Florida in the hope of seeing him, and eventually taking him home.
Donald and Frieda Fons of Land O' Lakes, outside Tampa, arrived in New York on Thursday evening with open-ended tickets because it's not clear when they will able to see their 3-year-old grandson Nathaniel, according to their son Ryan Fons. The boy will remain in foster care until legal and custody issues are resolved, according to the Administration for Children's Services.
Staff from New York City's protective services has been in contact with social services officials in Florida and with the paternal grandparents. ACS said staff would meet with the grandparents, but the meeting was not open to the public.
“Three-year-old Nathaniel Fons, who was found at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Tuesday, remains in the care of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and has been temporarily placed with a foster family," said ACS spokeswoman Laura Postiglione.
"The child will remain in the care of Children’s Services until legal and custody issues are resolved," she said. "Staff from New York City’s protective services has been in contact with social services officials in Florida and with the paternal grandparents. Children’s Services staff will meet with the grandparents if they arrive in New York City. This meeting is not open to the public.”
Ryan Fons said his parents were told not to get their hopes up, but there was a possibility that they would be able to see their grandson, nicknamed Nathan, on Friday. He said children's services may want to see how Nathan responds to them since it has been almost a year since he saw them.
Nathaniel was found alone at the cathedral Tuesday evening with a note in his hand bearing the name of a detective in Florida and the words "call immediately." Officials in New York and Florida said a couple caravanning with Nathaniel's mother took him from Florida after she was arrested on counterfeit charges. The woman, Eleanor Black, 29, was seen on surveillance footage at famed Fifth Avenue landmark moments before Nathaniel was abandoned, police said. William Scott, 29, was believed to have been with her.
The NYPD said Thursday the couple skipped town and headed north. They are suspected in the same counterfeiting operation where Nathaniel's mother, Erin Comeau, was arrested in Florida and would also face charges of endangering the welfare of a child in New York.
Flagler County authorities in Florida had issued a missing child alert for Nathaniel on Sunday, after Comeau was arrested on charges of operating a counterfeit money operation. Comeau, 26, told officials her son was in a separate car traveling with Black, Scott and their children. Their abandoned Chevy Suburban was found by Jacksonville sheriff's officials in a hotel parking lot.
Comeau is being held in Flagler County. The boy's father is also jailed in Florida, and his parents have said it was because of a parole violation.