Is Melody Bannister Missing?

Ignored by the Cop; Shut Down by the Judge

Melody Bannister

On June 13, 2019, I took my children to the Stafford County police station to report their abuse. Criminal Investigations Detective J.G. Wright and CPS worker Jennifer Dudley sat across the table from me in the interview room; the children were each interviewed briefly in a separate room. Dudley concluded my interview with a patronizing statement about how impressionable and imaginative children are. She did not believe them.

Wright sat quietly as she spoke, not disagreeing with her. However, he said he was required to investigate the alleged abusers. His face showed genuine concern, so we left with a sense that he at least believed us; we carried a small hope that Justice would be served.

I knew that as soon as we reported to the police, we would be in grave danger from the abusers.

We left town on June 14: the first day of summer vacation. We spent five days in a mountaintop cabin in West Virginia. When we drove down off the mountain and back into cell service, I called Detective Wright to check on the case. We spoke briefly once, when he told me that he had interviewed my husband and would soon interview my father-in-law. After that, he stopped answering my phone calls.

Clearly it was not safe to return home since none of the abusers were behind bars and the police had ceased communication with me. We stayed with several dear friends during this time, receiving comfort and encouragement, waiting to see how things would unfold.

My husband William Joseph Bannister removed nearly all the money from our joint bank accounts, cancelled my credit cards, and demanded that I return the children to him at once. He informed me that the police were closing the case.

Unbeknownst to me, he hired a lawyer and drew up papers claiming that Janelle, Vivienne (the first two to disclose abuse), and I were mentally unstable, in spite of having no mental health expert examine or diagnose any of us.

Stafford County, Virginia Judge Julian W. Johnson granted full custody of the children to my husband on July 8, 2019, allowing me no visitation whatsoever.

How was this possible, since William Joseph Bannister and I are still legally married, with no history of separation or custody disputes?

They held a Family Court hearing in my absence on August 19, 2019, and ruled in favor of my husband.

They never served me a court summons to that hearing.

That case number is JJ053144-01-99. Because it involves minors, the court documents are confidential.

On July 17, 2019, the children and I moved to Alabama, retained an attorney, and filed for a Protection From Abuse order. This was granted by Judge Pamela Wilson Cousins and a Family Court hearing was set for August 20th, 2019, to determine the future of the children.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman interviewed Genevieve, Janelle, Vivienne, Peter, and me; forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone interviewed me. They prepared their reports to submit to the court, and found all of us to be of sound mind and our stories to be credible.

When our attorney, Samuel McLure, stepped forward to present our case on August 20, 2019, he was promptly shut down by Judge Pamela Wilson Cousins –the same judge who had granted our Protection From Abuse order. She angrily refused to even glance at a single document he held in his hand, or to let him speak for us.

Judge Cousins was not willing to hear any forensic expert opinion, even though Dr. Carole Lieberman had flown all the way from California to testify on our behalf.

Judge Cousins deferred to the Stafford, Virginia Court ruling from the day before, and threatened to hold our attorney in contempt of court if he uttered another word about it.

It made no sense.

Why would Judge Cousins, who has a history of advocating for the protection of children, suddenly reverse her stance and revoke the protective order she had signed into place? What was the source of her anger that day? Is it possible she was threatened by someone behind the scenes?

Charles Simpson lives just a few hours south of Birmingham -in Mobile, Alabama. How far does his influence reach?

Our request for a stay of the Alabama judge’s August 20 ruling was refused on November 20, 2019.
We now await the chance to appeal our case: number DR-2019-500538.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, our case file sits on the desk of the Richmond FBI office. Have they even looked at it?

Based on tonight’s local Virginia news report, it appears that the FBI needs to investigate the Stafford County Police force.

Will Justice triumph over lawlessness this Christmas?

* * * * *

If you would like to help these children, you can contact the following to let your voice be heard.

  • Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring: 804-786-2071; mailopa@oag.state.va.us
  • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam: 804-786-2211
  • Alabama Governor Kay Ivey: 334-242-7100
  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall: 334-242-7300
  • Richmond, Virginia FBI: 804-261-1044
  • Stafford, Virginia Detective J.G. Wright: 540-658-5210; jwright@staffordcountyva.gov
  • William Joseph Bannister: 202-834-9442; bbannister@programmanagers.com; bill.bannister@gmail.com

Please sign the Change.org petition here. This petition includes wording you can use when contacting any of the above.

Our Alabama Family Court case number is DR-2019-500538.

Virginia Family Court case number is JJ053144-01-99.

24 thoughts on “Is Melody Bannister Missing?

  1. I have been through something similar. I’m still going through it actually. When I complied and brought my children back they were taken from me for 3 months with no contact whatsoever. After a plea deal of neglect I am able to visit them now at least. Like you, we left the state on a planned trip and a court order was issued in our absence. I was never even accused of any abuse. I wish you the best and I’ll pray for you, strong momma.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Moms and dads, if you are trying to reach a good outcome in a custody dispute hire a good attorney, listen to that attorney, and definitely do not abscond with the children in violation of a court order, even if you believe with all your heart that you are in the right. If you don’t have money for a good attorney, beg, borrow (don’t steal) to get one. Emoting and posting blogs won’t result in a favorable court order. This is a sad situation for the kids, the mother, and the father. Now mom will be likely be locked up for some time, and that benefits no one.

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  2. Here is the link. https://www.wmbfnews.com/2019/12/13/va-children-abducted-by-mother-may-be-danger-deputies-say/

    And here are some quotes and my thoughts.

    “Deputies said [these four children] were abducted by their mother.”

    — Because she was trying to keep them safe.

    “After an investigation, the allegations [of abuse by their father] were determined to be unfounded.”

    — Because they didn’t believe the children. Any investigation worthy of being called an *investigation* would include forensic interviews with the children. The police didn’t have that done, but the lawyer for the mother *did* have it done, and the judge refused to hear the forensic investigator.

    “The courts granted [the father full] custody [with no visitation by the mother].”

    — Even though the mother hadn’t been evaluated in any formal way.

    ‘Recent developments in the case have led investigators to believe the children may now be in danger.”

    — My impression is that the “recent developments” are that Melody is posting her story at Millstones of Justice.

    “Bannister is wanted for [among other things] one misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report.”

    — You go to the police to tell them what your children have told you, and you’re going to be arrested for filing a false report?

    Every guideline coming out for churches, schools, and all professionals says, if a child reports any type of abuse to you, the adult, call the police immediately–they have experts who will handle the investigation. The child will be treated with compassion and the claim will be thoroughly investigated.

    But in reality, THIS is what has happened.

    What has our justice system come to?

    Liked by 7 people

  3. I am a friend of Petra. When I spoke to the FBI field office in Richmond, I was told they had never heard of your case. They transferred me to a “reporting” line and agent ID #9626 took information from me that I extracted from your blog. They then put a trace on my phone. I believe you. I stand with you. Gloria

    Liked by 4 people

  4. How horribly unspeakable! You have done rightly, courageous mother! My heart cries for justice and truth to be shouted loudly! I’m praying for angels of protection and swift justice for these evil people. Prayers too for healing, as long as it takes. God is your defense and fighting on your behalf!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so saddened to read of this atrocity but completely understand how the system can often fail to protect children (I am a foster parent). You & your sweet children are in my prayers & I want you to remember – God is there with you, He knows the truth and I am trusting Him to move and work in the hearts of the justice system on your behalf. Continue to have your case well-documented, make sure Forensic interviews are done and well-documented, both on paper and electronically and I also recommend calling a private investigator as well. If needed, you are welcome to contact me and I would be glad to give you the name of a wonderful child advocate/PI that can help you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Melody – I wish so much that there were a way I could help you. I’d be willing to have you and your children stay with me, but I can’t think of any way to give you my contact information where people who wish you harm couldn’t get it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I dont know if you have control over who posts. but I AM concerned about people leaving their email addresses and phone numbers. The media I am quite sure is checking this blog and including your personal info puts you on their radar real fast.

    Like

  8. I’m right here in Greenville county. I have a group of friends and family members who are more than willing to take you and the children in and protect you in any way we can until these disgusting, horrible, evil people are brought to justice! 8645393709 8645590578 islerjamie@yahoo.com God please watch over these precious babies and their strong and courageous mother! Keep them safe, and bring their abusers and those who failed to protect them to justice Amen

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  9. And you see why the law in some areas in broken. This lady is protecting her children from monsters, and anybody that thinks that dad deserves custody of them children is a monster just like the dad and the grand dad. My god tells me the love of money is the root of all evil well here you go… a sick bastard with money can rape and abuse kids. That is what it looks like here. If it is not somebody please tell me what it is

    Like

  10. oh my goodness, I am going to be praying for you and your children. For justice and for all this to be over for yall and for healing. Is there any where I can send you money to help out?

    Like

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