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Fugitive mother arraigned on charges
Thursday, July 21, 2005 By PATRICIA NORRIS
CHICOPEE - After more than two years on the run with her daughters, Heidi Raleigh is back in Springfield to answer a criminal fugitive charge.
But not the way she planned it.
Raleigh, who returned to the area after consultation with her legal team, planned to turn herself in to authorities July 11 so long as her daughters were relinquished to the care of family members, she said.

But Chicopee police arrested her first.
Raleigh had been hiding in battered women's shelters after a Florida court awarded custody of her daughters to her ex-husband, Derek Smith of Cape Coral. A subsequent Hampden County Probate Court order upheld the Florida decision.
She returned to Chicopee. On July 6, she said she was at her sister-in-law's apartment when the Chicopee police broke down the door.
Raleigh has since been arraigned, pleaded innocent to charges, was released on bail and is staying with her mother in Chicopee.
A hearing is scheduled tomorrow in Hampden Juvenile Court to determine if the girls will remain in Department of Social Service custody or be returned to their father.
Raleigh initially ran with her daughters in 2002 because she said she feared for her life and the lives of her girls after the custody reversal.
Raleigh contends Smith abused her, and court documents show Raleigh and another of Smith's former wives testified they received restraining orders against him for physical abuse.
Smith strongly denies abusing Raleigh and said she is using the accusation as a weapon in the custody fight.
The inability of the courts to resolve disputes among some divorcing parents has always been a factor in family abductions. But the Smith/Raleigh case is unusual in that Heidi Raleigh lost custody of her children even though she was never deemed an unfit parent by any court.
The girls, McKenna, 9, and Taylor, 8, are now together in a foster home. Their father wants them returned to Florida, according to his attorney, James M. Smith of Springfield.

"I feel that he is correct legally," Smith said.
The lawyer has filed a motion to dismiss a 2003 care and protection order giving the Department of Social Service custody of the children - a move that was authorized after a juvenile court investigation found the children were at risk for abuse if they were returned to their father. However, a Florida court had ruled that there was no evidence that he ever abused the children.
Smith said the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act supersedes the Hampden Juvenile Court's emergency court order.
Denise Monteiro, spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services, said the agency is trying to do what is best for the girls by keeping them together and trying to retain custody in Massachusetts.
"If we can keep them here and have supervised visits with their father - both parents, that is important. They have not seen this man and they do not know him well and that is an important component of custody," she said.
Meanwhile, Heidi Raleigh now sees her daughters on supervised visits - one hour, a few days a week.
Raleigh's next court hearing for parental interference is Aug. 16 in Hampden Superior Court.

-- "mv-franco@juno.com" <mv-franco@JUNO.COM> wrote:
Story in The Republican today (masslive.com) about Heidi Raleigh, Chicopee, kidnapping her kids from Florida dad who has custody. Springfield judge uphold the Fla. order. Can someone research and post to the list. I don't have access to MassLive from my work. Thank you.