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Singer McCready's son found safe with mother

Law enforcement in Arkansas and U.S. Marshals have 5-year-old Zander McCready in their custody and say that he is safe, according to officials with the Childrens Network of Southwest Florida, NBC station WBBH reported late Friday.
/ Source: TODAY news services

Law enforcement in Arkansas and U.S. Marshals have 5-year-old Zander McCready in their custody and say that he is safe, according to officials with the Childrens Network of Southwest Florida, NBC station WBBH reported late Friday.

Officials say that his mother, country singer Mindy McCready, was hiding in a closet with him when law enforcement entered the Heber Spings, Ark., home of McCready's boyfriend.

Gayle Inge, Zander's grandmother and McCready's mother, was tearful when she talked about the news Friday night with The Associated Press.

"I'm real excited that he's safe," she said. "But I can't explain what this is like. We feel for Mindy and we feel for Zander."

Inge said her son — McCready's half brother — texted McCready, who responded with a text that said her mother would never see her again.

Right now, they don't know what will happen with Zander, but they are happy he is safe.

Florida Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said in an email Friday night that her agency was working with Arkansas officials to bring the boy back to his legal guardian in Florida, his maternal grandmother.

Gayle Inge, and Mindy McCready's stepfather, Michael Inge, had been waiting for four days to hear the whereabouts of Zander.

Mindy McCready disappeared with him Tuesday after she took him from her dad's house in Cape Coral.

A Florida judge signed an order on Thursday allowing authorities to take custody of country and bring him back to Florida if they could find him.

The order came a day after Florida officials said a missing person's report had been filed for Zander and that McCready had been ordered to return the boy. But the singer had countered that her son was safe with her.

The singer said Thursday she would not bring her son back from Tennessee to Florida, despite violating a custody arrangement and a judge's order.

It's not yet clear whether she could face criminal charges.

"I'm doing all this to protect Zander, not stay out of trouble," McCready wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Thursday. "I don't think I should be in trouble for protecting my son in the first place."

McCready, who turned 36 Wednesday, said she could not travel because she's nearly seven months pregnant with twins.

Representatives for the singer said on Wednesday that Zander has been with her for more than 30 days, and that he was safe and healthy, adding that law enforcement officials spoke with Zander and saw him on Tuesday via the online video conferencing program Skype.

McCready and her mother have had a long custody battle over the boy. Until recently, the boy was living with McCready's mother. Her mother was awarded guardianship in 2007. McCready says her son has suffered abuse at her mother's house; Gayle Inge denies the abuse allegations.

Durdaller said any criminal charges would come at the discretion of law enforcement or the Lee County (Fla.) State Attorney's office.

McCready provided a series of e-mails to the AP with Lee County Judge James Seals' ruling to return the boy and correspondence with her attorney. Seals wrote to McCready's lawyer that once the boy is back in Florida "we'll pick up the pieces."

"Mom has violated the court's custody order and we are simply restoring the child back into our custody," the judge wrote. "Nothing more. Nothing less. The court makes no judgment about whether Mom will or will not competently care for the child while in her custody. It only wants the child back where the court placed him."

McCready was born in Florida and found fame in Nashville as a singer in the mid-1990s, including a No. 1 hit, "Guys Do It All the Time." She has lived a complicated life in recent years.

In August, she filed the libel suit in Palm Beach County against her mother and the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc., over a story published in the tabloid newspaper that quoted Inge.

In July 2007, she was accused of scuffling with Inge and resisting arrest at her mother's home in Florida. She was sentenced to jail for 60 days for a probation violation and released; she served 30 days in jail. She also lost custody of her son.

And in 2008, McCready was admitted to a Nashville hospital after police said she cut her wrists and took several pills in a suicide attempt.

During the TV show "Celebrity Rehab 3" in 2010, McCready came off as a sympathetic figure, and host Dr. Drew Pinsky called her an angel in the season finale.

Also in 2010, police went to Inge's home for a report of an overdose, and McCready was taken to a Florida hospital. However, neither the hospital nor McCready's publicist would say why the singer was hospitalized.

McCready also fought the release of a tape in which she reportedly talked about former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, with whom she had an affair as a teenager.

NBC station WBBH, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.