When we last posted on this story back in September of 2009, Ricky Chekevedia was finally found after being hidden from his father by his mother and grandmother for 2-years. (Previous article: Ricky Chekevdia, Kidnapped & Hidden by Mother, Remains in State Custody)
Shannon Wilfong from Illinois, hid her son, Ricky Chekevdia, for nearly two years in order to prevent the boy’s father from parental access. Much of that time was spent in a crawl space behind a wall in the Wilfong home.
Shockingly, she will only be sentenced to two-years probation and serve no more jail time. According to the CBS News article: Illinois mom pleads guilty in boy-behind-wall case, Shannon Wilfong plead guilty to five misdemeanors. As a result, she was sentenced to fines amount to $1,500, and 30-days in jail with credit for time served on the “obstruction of a peace officer” charge. Oh, and only $400 ($100 for each count) on the charges of unlawful interference with child visitation.
Unfortunately, this will hardly serve as a deterrent to those who would willfully engage in custodial interference. In the Chekevdia case, that willful disobedience dragged on for years while nothing was done about it.
About her accomplice in the unlawful detention of their son, the article goes on:
Wilfong’s mother, Diane Dobbs, also pleaded guilty to obstruction and escaped additional jail time when the judge credited her with the 12 days she’d already been behind bars. Dobbs, 53, was fined $1,000.
The boy’s father, Michael Chekevdia, was finally granted legal custody of the boy after the child spent some time in state assigned custody, ostensibly to “ease the transition” back to his father. Reports indicate that Michael Chekevdia was satisfied with the plea deal.
Shannon Wilfong hid her son at her mother’s house. Whenever visitors came to the home, Ricky was stashed away in a crawl space measuring approximately 5-feet wide by 4-feet high and 12-feet long. With windows blacked out with with shades and other arrangements, the court found the boy was held without childhood friends, medical attention, or schooling. What little time Ricky Chekevdia did get to spend outside was in a fenced area where he couldn’t be seen by passers-by.
It wasn’t until authorities raided the home in September of 2009 that the boy was finally discovered and they arrested the mother, Shannon Wilfong, and the grandmother, Diane Dobbs. When they were arrested, they tossed out the customary false allegations of child abuse against the father.
In February of last year, Franklin County Circuit Judge Melissa Drew rejected awarding the boy to his mother. Drew, who described the boy then as “very resilient,” ruled custody should go to his father with the caveat that the court maintain oversight of the child.
Well, here’s hoping that the court doesn’t see fit to reunite the boy by returning custody to his mother. Having committed crimes and engaging in abuse and neglect of the boy herself, along with her mother, and – authorities suspected – the assistance of her boyfriend (charges dropped), it stands to reason that the boy should be safely maintained in his father’s custody and the mother should have closely supervised visitation until the child is an adult.
After all, one must presume that since there was a contentious child custody matter in play at the time of the custodial interference, the “court’s oversight” is leaving a lot to be desired.