FARGO - Another Christmas.
More than 850 days after Tricia Taylor of Fargo took off with her two daughters to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in far northwest South Dakota, the two fathers who have been granted custody in North Dakota courts have now been without their daughters for three Christmases and numerous birthdays.
Taylor, who has been convicted of parental kidnapping, has been sitting in the Cass County Jail since November of 2014, except for some time in the North Dakota state prison.
She has refused repeated requests for interviews through her lawyers and had a court hearing just a few weeks ago saying she wanted to get out for Christmas to see her girls, Tatelyn, who turns 9 this Wednesday, Dec. 28, and Cheyienna, who turns 4 on Jan.28.
"She told the court there's nothing she can do to get the girls back," said family spokesman Mike Nygaard, whose nephew Aarin is the father of the younger girl who he hasn't seen since she was 18 months old. The father of the older girl, Terrance Stanley, hasn't seen his girl since she was 6.
Judges, prosecutors and lawyers have said that if Taylor returns the children from her half sister's home on the reservation she could go free-and could have done that in time for Christmas.
However, Nygaard said that after listening to numerous jailhouse phone calls between Taylor and her family, it's clear she has no intention of giving up the girls to their fathers despite the North Dakota court orders.
"She has said numerous times in talking with her family that she will never bring the girls back to Fargo," Nygaard said.
On her side is the Cheyenne River tribe, where a tribal judge has refused to grant custody to the fathers, but instead has given temporary custody to her half sister, Jessica Ducheneaux, and her husband, Edward. The tribal court has also refused to honor the North Dakota court orders on custody and the parental kidnapping.
The case has been taken to a tribal appeals court, which ordered immediate visitation for the fathers and an immediate hearing again in tribal court on the issues involving custody.
However, no hearing has been scheduled by tribal Judge Brenda Claymore, and the fathers said they don't want to step foot on the reservation for visitation for fear of their safety.
"We've had death threats," Nygaard said.
The girls, according to web posts, seem to be doing all right. One web post said the half sister and her husband were "heroes" for taking the girls and caring for them and the girls "loved" the couple.
Nygaard responded to that post by saying they "are selfish people thinking of themselves and what they want. They didn't have anything to do with making these children and they have no right to make any decisions about them. See them soon, in federal court."
Indeed, the case is now headed to federal court as the contradictions in judgements between North Dakota state courts and the tribe's courts may have to be settled there.
The tribal appeals court didn't make it clear who has jurisdiction in the case of the two girls.
Although the FBI arrested Taylor on the reservation for parental kidnapping more than two years ago, there is no plans for them to recover the girls-at least so far.
EDITOR'S NOTE: To close out the year, reporters from The Forum are returning to stories that made headlines to see what's new. Look for a Following Up story every day through early January.