STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. -- Investigators issued an alert for a Stafford County mom accused of abducting her four children after "recent developments in the investigation have led investigators to believe the children may now be in danger."
"The investigation began in early June 2019 when a woman identified as Melody Bannister, 34, of Stafford informed deputies that her four children were being abused by a family member," a Stafford County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said. "A joint investigation with Stafford County law enforcement and Child Protective Services determined the allegations were unfounded. Shortly after the conclusion of the investigation, Bannister left Virginia with the children on a planned vacation and never returned."
The next month Stafford County Juvenile Domestic & Relations Court granted custody of the children to their father.
"Bannister refused to return the children and subsequently petitioned the courts in Alabama requesting custody be issued to her there," the spokesperson said. "The courts in Alabama heard the case and also ordered Bannister to return her children to their father back in Virginia. Bannister absconded from the state of Alabama with her four children and has not been seen since."
Bannister is currently wanted for one felony charge of Violation of a Court Order, four misdemeanor charges of Abduction, and one misdemeanor charge of Filing a False Police Report.
The children were identified as Genevieve Bannister, 13; Janelle Bannister, 12; Vivienne Bannister, 11; and Peter Bannister, 7.
"The U.S. Marshals Service and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children became involved in the investigation several months ago," the spokesperson continued. "Banister and the children were last seen on August 20 in Moulton, Alabama."
Over the past several months, they have been seen at the following locations:
Birmingham, Alabama - 35201
Moulton, Alabama - 35650
Greenville, South Carolina - 29601
Shell Lake, Wisconsin - 54871
Madison, Wisconsin - 53701
Spooner, Wisconsin - 54801
Maryville, Tennessee - 37801
Knoxville, Tennessee - 37901
Lexington, Kentucky - 40502
Leadville, Colorado - 80429
Raleigh, North Carolina - 27601
Aransas Pass, Texas - 78335
Dallas, Texas - 75201
Corpus Christie, Texas - 78401
Law enforcement officials are asking anyone with information to contact: 1-877-WANTED2.