Virginia mother at center of national manhunt arrested in Indiana; children found safe


PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WXIN/WRIC) – A Virginia mother on the run for months with her four children has been arrested in Indiana.

Investigators took Melody Bannister, 34, into custody early Wednesday morning in Plainfield. Bannister has been the subject of a nationwide search by U.S. Marshals. She was booked on a warrant out of Stafford County, according to the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office.

34-year-old Melody Bannister

Sources said Bannister was found around 2:30 a.m. at a Speedway gas station on Perry Road. Her four children were found with her in her vehicle and are in DCS custody.

Police began investigating Bannister in June after she informed the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office that her children were being abused.

Police conducted a joint investigation with child protective services and determined that the allegations were unfounded.

Shortly after the investigation concluded, Bannister left with the children on a planned vacation and never returned. The next month, the court granted custody of the children to their father.

Photos released by authorities during investigation

Bannister petitioned courts in Alabama for custody. Officials in Alabama ordered her to return the children to their father. Bannister then left Alabama and remained on the run. In December, police issued an alert and said the children may be in danger.

Bannister had been spotted in multiple states, including Alabama, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas.

She was wanted on a felony charge of violation of a court order, four misdemeanor abduction charges and a misdemeanor count of filing a false police report.

She’s being held at the Hendricks County Jail following Wednesday morning’s arrest.


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