Who Lost Rilya Wilson?

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, May 7, 2002. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: More twists in the case of a missing 5-year-old who vanished a year ago without any notice.

Florida State welfare officials are taking the heat for falsifying documents and losing Rilya Wilson, but now there are questions about the woman who says she's Rilya's grandmother. Geralyn Graham claims Rilya was taken out of her home by child welfare officials back in January of 2001. But why did her sister have custody? And if her son is really his father, as she says, who is this jailed inmate who's claiming to be the father? Joining us from Miami, the attorney representing Geralyn Graham and her sister Pam, Ed Shoat.

Also with us is Carol Marvin Miller who's covering the story for the Miami Herald. Ed, first to you, what is going on with your client? Was the child supposed to be in her custody or not?

ED SHOAT, ATTORNEY: The child was in her custody and in the custody of her sister, Pamela Graham.

VAN SUSTEREN: Had there been a court order that said the two have joint custody of this child?

SHOAT: No, there was no court order for Rilya, the missing child. There was a court order for the Rodericka, the younger of the two children that placed the child in the custody of Pamela Graham. Pamela Graham was in a pre-adoptive status and was going to adopt both children.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, skip her because I'm interested in the missing child because I must tell you, Ed, and I don't want you to necessarily take the heat from me for this, but it is beyond me how the state of Florida or a grandmother could lose a child, a 5-year-old child. I mean, who was supposed to have custody of this child by law?

SHOAT: Well, you can't skip over that, Greta, because the grandmother didn't lose the child. The welfare system, the dependency system lost the child.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right Carol, to you. The judge down there is very upset, is she not?


VAN SUSTEREN: What happened in court?

MARBIN MILLER: Yesterday the judge demanded that Department of Children and Families explain what happened to Rilya Wilson. The department's senior lawyer in Miami indeed confirmed that Rilya disappeared from state custody, perhaps as early as January 2001. The judge also asked the department to explain why Rilya's sister, Rodericka, was removed from the Graham's home a week ago and where she is now. The department declined, indeed refused to answer that question, which is sort of symptomatic of a persistent problem here. The department has resisted efforts among judges, advocates...


VAN SUSTEREN: You know it's even worse than that, Carol, at least from what I've read is that this judge was lied to by the caseworker, that the caseworker said she was checking on this child and then signed documents and she was not. Am I right or am I wrong on that?

MARBIN MILLER: We reported a week ago that according to the court docket, this caseworker appeared before Judge Cindy Lederman on more than one occasion and filed status reports on these children to the judge that indicated Rilya was in her placement, that she was safe and well cared for, and that the Grahams were a pre-adoptive home and wished to adopt her permanently.

SHOAT: Greta, no caseworker was in my client's house from January of 2001 when the child went missing.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know Ed, I'm a lawyer, and we just saw pictures of how heated that Judge is, and you know I assume that someone is going to end up in the slammer for this one for lying to...


SHOAT: I hope you're showing pictures of the child too because we want to find this child, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, I understand that the police are now looking at this case as a possible homicide. Do you have any information on that?

SHOAT: That's correct. I think that's what they are looking at it as, because they have no other information. They don't have any information that it is a homicide, but the police have to be allowed to do their work and they should be looking at every possible angle. My client has spent untold hours with the police already, not only giving her version, but going through photographs of DCF Workers, that's the state agency and looking to see if she...


VAN SUSTEREN: Carol, I know that Ed can't make this comment about his own client, but you can tell me, perhaps, is the grandmother considered a suspect in an investigation?

MARBIN MILLER: I don't know the answer to that. I think the police have said that at this point they have no idea what happened to this child. They don't know whether she is precious Doe, the 5-year-old who was decapitated in Kansas City. They don't know whether she was abducted and is alive and well somewhere else. I think they probably are taking the position that everybody is a suspect and nobody is a suspect.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, thank you both very much, appreciate you joining me tonight, a very troubling case.

Click here to order the entire transcript of the May 6, 2002 edition of On the Record.

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