WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas - A Williamson County judge is keeping two Round Rock girls who were allegedly kidnapped in state custody.
The two sisters did not attend the hearing Tuesday morning before Judge Suzanne Brooks. Only still cameras were allowed inside the courtroom while the judge was briefed on the case by lawyers representing the girls and by attorneys for the state.
"We are told they are doing really well, they had a chance to speak with some relatives and they were excited to do that, and we are going to provide visitation to family members,” said Lisa Block with the Department of Family and Protective Services.
During the hearing it was revealed that an aunt and uncle who live near Fayetteville, Arkansas are interested in caring for the girls. Judge Brooks was also told that Greg Griffith, the father of the 14-year-old, wants to reconnect with the girls and will allow caseworkers to inspect his home in Louisiana. The father of the youngest, has not yet been located, he was last seen in Seattle - where the girls were born. It was decided that the sisters should remain in foster care until a more permanent home can be identified.
"It’s so important that we provide the stability and even therapy for these children because we know they've been through so much in a short amount of time,” said Block.
The two sisters were the focus of an amber alert after the body of their mother, Tonya Bates, was found in their Round Rock duplex. The girls were later located alive and well, in Colorado. Terry Miles, at the time, was living with the girls and their mother. He is facing federal kidnapping charges while Round Rock police currently consider him to be a suspect in the murder of Tonya Bates.
Then there was the man who arrived at court Tuesday with his lawyers. Joseph Scheffler claims to be the common law husband of Tonya Bates. He has filed a motion to Intervene, which included several photographs of him with Tonya and the girls. In the documents he states that the youngest, while not his biological child, is like a daughter to him. Scheffler admits he and Tonya were separated at the time of her death, but argues he remained close. The motion is opposed by the state. A ruling on the request is expected in March when the judge is provided an update on who could be awarded custody.