The biological father of a young girl in the middle of a bitter custody dispute with the child’s adoptive parents was taken into custody by local authorities in Oklahoma on Monday morning after turning himself in.
Iraq war veteran Dusten Brown was wanted for failing to show up to transfer custody of his 3-year-old daughter, Veronica, back to her adoptive parents within 72 hours as ordered by the court.
Brown was taken into custody by the Cherokee Nation marshals service on Monday morning and released at 11:11 a.m. local time on a $10,000 "fugitive from justice" bond.
The baby's whereabouts remain unconfirmed.
A five-day transition had been planned to help the child, known as "baby Veronica," adjust to the transfer back to her adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobiancos in South Carolina, but “nobody showed,” Matt Capobianco told TODAY on Aug. 9.
The Capobiancos raised Veronica for the first two years of her life before a South Carolina court awarded custody to Brown in 2011, citing a federal law that seeks to keep Native American children with their birth parents. The Capobiancos fought to regain custody all the way to the Supreme Court, which overthrew the South Carolina court’s decision earlier this month by ruling that the federal statute did not apply in this case.
Brown and the child’s biological mother, Christy Maldonado, split up in 2009, and Maldonado asked Brown for the custody of their daughter. Before being deployed to Iraq, he signed a legal document giving Maldonado custody, but told NBC’s Kristen Welker that he never realized his daughter could possibly be put up for adoption.
“I thought I was just signing for (Maldonado) to have full custody, so that she could take care of my daughter while I was gone,” Brown told Welker. “I’ll fight for her until I have no more fight in me.”
The Capobiancos claim that Brown and his wife, Robin Brown, ceased all communication with the Capobiancos after initially getting custody in the 2011 South Carolina court ruling.
“They cut off all communication,” Melanie Capobianco said on TODAY on Aug. 9. “(Baby Veronica) didn’t know what happened to us. And we don’t plan to do that with her.”