Stafford mom who took off with her children pleads guilty

Crime

STAFFORD, Va. (WRIC) — The Stafford mom who took off with her children and led police on a nationwide manhunt takes a plea deal. Melody Bannister was captured in Indiana with her kids in the car after eight months on the run.

Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen tells us in a closed hearing, the 35-year-old plead guilty to lesser charges of misdemeanor child abduction and contributing to the delinquency or neglect of a minor. All other criminal charges were dropped and Bannister was released for time served.

The Stafford mom told 8News she took off because her children were being sexually abused. While on the run, multiple supporters came to her aid, feeding and housing the mother and her kids. “You know, the concept of the underground railroad is not lost,” Bannister said during an interview with 8News in May.

Authorities told 8News they investigated the abuse claims and they were unfounded. Under the terms of the plea deal, Bannister can’t have any contact with the children and must remain on good behavior for 5 years.

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