Gray line: Lisa intent on keeping kids
By 08/31/2000 00:00:00
Ellis County Press
Two legal issues combine to keep the John Joe Gray family secluded on its property out of law enforcement's easy reach behind a barbed wire fence.
The result is a similar standoff to the start of the Branch Davidian disaster outside Waco.
Through a press release obtained exclusively by Ellis County Press correspondent John Parsons, Alicia Gray presented husband John's side of the story in last week's edition. Anderson County has an outstanding warrant for the arrest of John Gray, 51, on charges of assault and disarming a peace officer.
But there also is the issue involving the Gray's daughter, Lisa, and custody of her two children. A Henderson County court order has granted custody to Lisa's former husband, Keith Tarkington, but the family has refused to comply and is keeping the children secluded on its 47-acre property on the Trinity River bottom west of Cedar Creek Lake between Tool and Trinidad.
In the interest of fair media coverage, the Ellis County Press again turns to the press release to delve into the custody issue of 4-year-old Joe and 2-year-old Samuel, which developed before John Gray's trouble began.
'This question is simple,' Alicia states in her press release, available to read online at www.EllisCountyPress.com.
'While driving through town on our daughter's (Lisa's) birthday, she and her husband, Keith, were stopped by the police, where it was discovered that Keith had three unpaid traffic tickets and a subsequent arrest warrant.
'When they were taken in, although stating her name, Lisa chose not to reveal her date of birth,' Alicia said. 'In any case, it was her husband, not her, who was arrested. Lisa was held in jail for failure to identify.
'When Keith got out, he was supposed to get her out, but failed to do so. When she finally got out, they came to our house, at which time Keith left again.
'After two weeks, Keith filed for divorce. During the child custody hearing, Lisa, having no faith in the courts, chose not to attend. She has never been served any papers related to the custody of the children,' Alicia said.
Tarkington, whose side of the case is covered in a letter to the editor on page 3, said he has not seen either of his children since April 9, 1999.
When Lisa did not respond to the court's order, an Athens judge signed an order commanding the Henderson County sheriff to bring the boys into the custody of the court. Officers reportedly tried to serve the court order by leaving it on a fence post at the Gray property. Officers say since child custody is a civil matter, they have no legal authority to enter the property.
With well-armed family members patrolling the property, law enforcement officials are hesitant of a confrontation by acting on either the arrest warrant or court order. Saying time is on their side, officials are waiting, reportedly setting up a siege.
Electric and phone service been shut off to the Gray property for alleged nonpayment of utility bills. But the Grays have an electric generator and communicate via cell phones and short wave radio.
Under the cover of darkness, a Department of Public Safety squad positioned a horse trailer containing a remote-controlled camera in a pasture across a road from the Gray's property. The surveillance equipment, however, was destroyed, and law enforcement officers reportedly are blaming men from inside the property.