Missing Neb. Family Turns Themselves In; Mom and Dad Remain In Custody

A northeast Nebraska couple who vanished with their children after being interviewed about allegations of abuse turned themselves in Monday and were taken into custody, a sheriff said.

Knox County Sheriff Jim Janecek said in a news release that he met with Matthew and Rowena Schade and their children on Monday.

The Schades, on probation for burglary, were taken into custody. He was arrested on a warrant for a probation violation in neighboring Antelope County, and she also was being held, the news release said.

The release did not give the children's condition. The children, ages 11 and 8, will be placed after state officials talk to them, the news release said.

Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jeanne Atkinson said she could not provide information on the case, citing privacy laws.

The family disappeared March 20 after the Schades were interviewed in their Creighton home about allegations of abuse.

A search extended to remote areas of South Dakota before winding back to Nebraska last week.

Janecek did not return phone messages seeking additional comment. Neither did the Knox and Antelope county attorneys.

Sandra Epstein of Creighton, Rowena Schade's mother, said Monday that she has not spoken with her daughter since Friday.

In the Friday call, Rowena Schade told Epstein that she and her husband fled the state out of fear that social services workers would take the kids away from them.

Rowena Schade told her mother Friday that the family had come back to Nebraska to retrieve a red Jeep they own. Authorities believe the family had spent several days hiding in a remote area of the Black Hills in South Dakota.

The search in South Dakota ended Friday after authorities found a stolen truck that they believe the family used to return to their home state. The truck belonged to the Silver City, S.D., volunteer fire department and was found in a grove of trees near Brunswick, Neb.

Rowena Schade told Epstein that they had "another plan" and that if things didn't work out, they would go "where no one would ever find them," according to a news release.

As many as 25 people had searched for the Schades in the Black Hills, but the search was scaled back Thursday after Matthew Schade called his father and said the family was OK and wanted to be left alone.

Investigators said the Schades, who spent their honeymoon in the Black Hills, had talked about relocating. It also appeared they left the house in a hurry with more than $1,000 worth of what authorities described as "camping survival-type gear" the Schades had recently purchased.

Matthew Schade attended a survival camp in the search area through his church and "expressed he would like to live like a hermit in the mountains," Maj. Brian Mueller of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office said last week.