In August 2018, police in Enoch, UT, filed a missing person’s report for Ariana Bozemen, age 9. The girl disappeared days after a judge awarded her father sole custody. Last week, authorities found the girl with her mother, Dawn Closson, and other family at a rest stop in Florida.
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Despite the heartbreak of the past year, her dad, Adrian Bozemen, wants his daughter to have a good relationship with her mom.
“You’re going to find out some stuff about your mom and her boyfriend, but just remember the good times you had with them and try not to get caught up with the bad,” Bozemen said, according to News4Jax.com.
One has to wonder what could be worse than what the girl already knows. Not only has she gone a year without seeing her father. Closson kept her daughter completely isolated, living in questionable conditions, and repeatedly lied to her about her dad.
For months, Closson, her boyfriend, Allen Johnson, Ariana, and five other children lived on the road in an SUV. When discovered late Tuesday, they were parked overnight at a rest stop in rural Florida.
Ariana said they started out in an RV, traveling at night to avoid other people. She also said her mother told her terrible things about her father whenever she asked about him. Fortunately, the girl was all smiles when Bozemen arrived to take his daughter home.
The rescue is thanks in part to an anonymous tipster who stopped at the rest area and recognized Ariana from news coverage. After going online to confirm the suspicions, the individual contacted the police in Utah, who collaborated with Florida authorities to retrieve the girl.
“This is just a mindful and watchful resident that was able to help us bring this to justice and get the girl safely back,” said Sgt. Isaac Akeroth of the Enoch Police Department, according to News4Jax.com.
Members of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department arrested Closson Wednesday morning on a warrant out of Iron County, Utah. Additional charges are pending. Johnson could be facing charges as well. For now, police allowed him to leave and released the five other children into his custody.
How to Protect Your Child Against Parental Kidnapping
Co-parenting after a break-up can be contentious. According to kidnapping prevention groups like the Polly Klass Foundation, feelings of anger, bitterness and desperation motivate parents to run off with a child. However, they are not the only factors. You should take special precautions if your child’s other parent is:
- Mentally ill
- Capable of moving at a moment’s notice
- Or, has already threatened to take the child
It’s especially important to work with the courts and local police during custody changes if you believe your ex poses a kidnapping risk.
For tips and a checklist on preventing and dealing with parental kidnapping, see, “They’re Your Kids Too: The Single Father’s Guide to Defending Your Fatherhood in a Broken Family Law System” by fathers’ rights attorney Anne P. Mitchell.