CHILD KIDNAPPING CASE
Suspect Removed From D.C. Court After Outburst
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The woman accused of abducting a 5-year-old boy from a Virginia supermarket was removed from a courtroom yesterday after an outburst in which she declared: "I didn't kidnap nobody! That little boy was outside in the cold by himself."
Falah O. Joe, 28, kept shouting as her attorney urged her to be quiet at the hearing at the federal courthouse in Washington. The yelling began after a prosecutor told the judge that Joe had kidnapped Kamron Wells, who vanished Sunday while on a trip with his grandfather and sister at the store.
"Why can't I talk?" Joe blurted. "This is [expletive]. I don't want to hear this."
Joe slammed papers on the defense table, and federal marshals removed her from the courtroom. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson called a recess, but even after Joe was taken away, she could be heard screaming and protesting. She was quiet when she returned to court about 40 minutes later.
The hearing was to be a routine proceeding, clearing the way for Joe to be sent to Virginia to face a federal kidnapping charge there. Joe had signed a waiver attesting to her identity, a required step. But in light of her behavior in court, the judge said she would not accept the waiver, questioning Joe's fitness to sign it, and decided to require prosecutors to return to court Thursday with proof of her identity. Joe, meanwhile, will remain locked up.
Prosecutors provided no motive for the alleged abduction. They revealed that Joe was ordered to get mental health treatment after she was convicted in an earlier assault case and recently was jailed for 30 days for failing to cooperate with her probation officer.
Joe was arrested in the District early Monday, more than 13 hours after she allegedly abducted Kamron from the Shoppers Food Warehouse on Little River Turnpike in Fairfax County. Because she was apprehended in the District, she had to appear in court there first.
Kamron had wandered away from his grandfather and sister in the store about 11 a.m. Sunday, police said. Police searched for him with helicopters, bloodhounds and officers on foot and bikes and gathered surveillance video from businesses, including images of Kamron apparently being led away from the store by a woman. Police also issued an Amber Alert, which was reported on news Web sites and television and radio newscasts.
Joe was caught about 1:30 a.m. Monday after she and the boy turned up in a rowhouse in the 5100 block of Ninth Street NW. Milton Mooya, who lives in the house, said an acquaintance, whom he knows as Mike, knocked on his door about midnight Sunday and asked to come inside with the woman and boy. Mooya took the boy to a bed to get some rest, and the boy told him twice, "That's not my real mommy," he said.
Mooya, who had seen a news report on the Amber Alert, confronted Mike and the woman and she ran away, he said. Mooya said that he called 911 and that Mike flagged a police car in the area. Joe was arrested, and the boy was found. Police said he was unharmed.
It remained unclear why Joe, who lives in the 3500 block of Moncure Avenue in the Baileys Crossroads area, had ventured into the District with the boy. Mooya said that he did not know her and that he believed Mike had just met her on a nearby street.
Joe, a former stripper, has had previous brushes with the law.
In 2003, she smuggled scissors into D.C. Superior Court during the sentencing of an ex-boyfriend implicated in a killing at the club where she danced. At that hearing, Joe tried to attack the ex-boyfriend, Melvin Brown. A deputy marshal intervened and was stabbed in the hand. Joe later pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to three years in prison.
After getting out of prison, Joe was placed on supervised release. She was required to report for mental health treatment and follow instructions of a probation officer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George said in court yesterday.
But Joe missed a mental health appointment, and the probation officer asked that her release be revoked. In September, she was sent back to jail for 30 days.
In yesterday's court outburst, Joe also took issue with the prosecutor's account of the earlier assault case. "I didn't stab no one. This is [expletive]," she said.
Staff writer Tom Jackman contributed to this report.