Mother of twins who've been missing 10 years gets probation

A woman who was accused of concealing the whereabouts of her twins, who haven't been seen in more than 10 years, has pleaded guilty to lesser charges and will serve four years of probation.

Patricia Fowler on Monday pleaded guilty to making false unsworn statements to police in connection with the Allegheny County police investigation into the whereabouts of the twins.

The twins, Ivon and Inisha Fowler, would be nearly 19 years old now, though detectives have said they fear the twins are dead because they've found no trace of them in years.

Patricia Fowler, 48, also pleaded guilty to theft and fraud for collecting nearly $57,000 in public assistance on behalf of the twins. She must repay that money as part of her sentence.

Fowler pleaded guilty after prosecutors on Monday dropped charges against another of her sons, Datwon Fowler, who will be 20 in August. He had been accused of pretending to be Ivon Fowler in a text message to police last year. His defense attorney, Richard McCague, said the message was sent at his mother's behest in hopes police would stop looking for the twins.

McCague told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which first reported Patricia Fowler's guilty plea, that Datwon Fowler has a strained relationship with his mother and hasn't seen his siblings since they were all small children. Patricia Fowler's public defender wouldn't comment.

Allegheny County Judge Thomas Flaherty in May threw out more serious charges that the Penn Hills woman obstructed justice and concealed the children's whereabouts from their incarcerated father. The judge reasoned that the mother couldn't obstruct a child abuse case because there was no evidence the twins had been harmed — they simply can't be accounted for.

The Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families has refused to comment on the case because its dealings with children who may have been abused are confidential.

Court records show Ivon Fowler was badly scalded in a bathtub when he was about 2, but welfare caseworkers didn't alert police or try to have him removed from Patricia Fowler's care. A caseworker testified at another hearing in 2006 that the twins reportedly were living with relatives in North Carolina and were doing well, but five months later the agency closed the case after telling a family court judge the twins couldn't be found.

Penn Hills and county police became involved in June 2016 after caseworkers asked for help removing four other minor children from the Fowler home for unspecified medical neglect. About two weeks later, the agency called back and told police about the twins, saying they hadn't been seen since at least 2006.

Fowler at various times told police the twins were living with friends or relatives in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. She even claimed she sold them for $2,000 each to a woman she didn't know in a deal brokered by a man she met in a bar, but she later acknowledged that was a lie, authorities said.

Police have been unable to find any trace of the children in school records or by using their birthdates and Social Security numbers.