The FBI is joining the search for a Manhattan mother and her eight children, ranging in age from 11 months to 11 years old. Melissa Russo reports.
Police have alerted South Carolina authorities that a Manhattan woman who snatched her children from foster care may be headed that way, and the FBI has joined the search for the family.
Shanel Nadal, 28, of Manhattanville, was visiting with her children inside the Forestdale Child Agency in Forest Hills, Queens, at about 4 p.m. Monday when she took them and left with them in her vehicle, a black 1996 Chevrolet Suburban with license plate EXZ5896.
Seven of the children are boys named Nephra Payne, after their father, though they all have different middle names. The youngest is an 11-month-old girl, Nefertiti.
The boys are 11, 10, 9, 6, 6, 5 and 4.
Police believe Nadal is traveling with the children's father, 34-year-old Nephra Payne.
Nadal lost custody of her children several years ago, and sources say her efforts to reclaim them faltered because she hid the birth of her eighth baby from child welfare workers.
Sources say Nadal was allowed unsupervised visits with the older children and supervised with the baby.
NBC New York has learned that the Administration for Children's Services had doubts she was overcoming her issues and warned her last week they were starting to plan for the possibility of terminating her parental rights and putting the children up for adoption.
Authorities believe that may be why she took the kids.
Linda Mitchell, a foster parent to five of Nadal's children, said she loved the kids and implored Nadal to bring them back. Still, she expressed some sympathy for Nadal, who Mitchell believed was tired of navigating the legal system to win back custody.
"She flipped out," Mitchell said. But, she added, "this is not the way to do it."
An Amber Alert was not issued for the children because State Police were not notified quickly enough of their disappearance, according to state sources. NYPD contacted State Police 21 hours after the children disappeared, and it was considered too late by that time to issue an Amber alert.
State sources emphasized that the purpose of an Amber alert is to locate missing children before they get too far.
When an Amber Alert is issued, authorities mobilize quickly to have police program license plate readers, notify toll clerks of getaway vehicles, and have broadcasters report the missing children.
Anyone with information about the children is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.