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Search continues for missing baby

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2-month-old was last seen Sept. 27

By Calen McKinney


A two-month-old baby has been reported as missing after his mother failed to meet the baby’s alleged father for a scheduled visitation.

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But the mother’s attorney says the baby isn’t missing — he is simply with his mother — and the man claiming to be the child’s father isn’t his father.
Conner Wayne Keith was born in Campbellsville on Aug. 24, and hasn’t been seen since Sept. 27.
He is listed on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as having brown hair and blue eyes and being 1 foot, 8 inches tall and weighing 8 pounds.
Taylor County Sheriff Allen Newton says Conner’s disappearance stems from a civil court case between his parents involving his custody.
Ryan Kevin Bailey, of 219 Arbor Lane in Campbellsville, petitioned for temporary and permanent custody in Taylor Circuit Court on Sept. 26, against Brittany Marie Cox, 18, of 709 N. Hoskins in Campbellsville.
Springfield attorney Susan Hanrahan McCain filed the complaint on Bailey’s behalf.
According to the petition, Bailey is Conner’s father. The petition states that Conner has lived at both his and Cox’s homes, but he is “fit and proper” to be granted custody.
The following day, on Sept. 27, Taylor Circuit Court Judge Dan Kelly signed an order granting Bailey temporary custody of Conner.
In an affidavit seeking that order, Bailey states that he is “seriously concerned” about his son’s well being when he is with Cox.
“She has admitted to me a serious problem with alcohol,” he states.
As an example, Bailey cited a Sept. 26 incident in which Cox called and asked him to pick her up after she began fighting with her live-in ex-husband.
“She said that he had drank all of his beer and then drank her rum and so they begin to fight over it,” Bailey stated. “She was drunk, her speech was slurred and she smelled of alcohol.”
Bailey stated that he and his girlfriend went to Cox’s home to pick her up. He wrote that Cox admitted that Conner is his son and that she has, since his birth, been arrested and charged with public intoxication and drinks every night to relieve the stress of caring for two infants.
Later that night, Bailey wrote, Cox asked him to take her back to her home to get Conner and his belongings. He states that he then returned home but feared for his son’s safety.
“Evidently, the baby had been left with a couple of friends who had been at Brittany’s home for a party,” Bailey wrote.
A few hours after Bailey took Cox back to her home, he wrote, Campbellsville Police dispatch called him and said Cox was willing to give Conner to him. He wrote that Cox did just that, and that Conner was living with him and his parents as of Sept. 26.
On Oct. 6, Lebanon attorney James L. Avritt Jr. filed a response to Bailey’s petition for custody on Cox’s behalf, denying the allegations made against her.
She states that Bailey has not been established as Conner’s father, nor is his name listed on the baby’s birth certificate.
Cox asked that the petition be dismissed and that she be awarded custody and, if Bailey is proven to be Conner’s father, he be ordered to pay child support.
Also on that day, Cox filed a motion to dismiss the order of temporary custody that Kelly signed.
She stated that she wasn’t served with a summons notifying her that the petition had been filed and that Kelly couldn’t have signed the order because Bailey hasn’t been established as Conner’s father.
Cox stated that, if Bailey felt that Conner was in harm, he should have notified Department for Community Based Services and filed a request in Taylor District Court for an emergency protective order.
“However, he circumvented the District Court and every form of due process by presenting this Court with an affidavit containing half truths and outright lies.”
On Oct. 7, McCain filed a motion asking that Kelly order Cox to appear in court and explain why she shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for failing to abide by the temporary custody order.
“The respondent has deliberately and continuously concealed the child from [Bailey] and law enforcement,” McCain wrote.
At a hearing on Oct. 13, Kelly overruled the motion to dismiss Bailey’s petition for custody.
Kelly again granted Bailey temporary custody of Conner but ordered that the baby is to be with Cox from 1 to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. He also ordered that no drugs or alcohol be in Conner’s presence.
In an order entered Oct. 14, Kelly stated that Cox was to deliver Conner to Bailey the preceding day at 6:15 p.m. If Cox didn’t deliver the baby, the order states, an arrest warrant was to be issued for her.
The order also called for genetic testing to be performed on Oct. 20 to establish that Bailey is Conner’s father.
Records state that an over-the-counter test has already been performed and show that with 99.9 percent probability that Bailey is Conner’s father.
Bailey filed an affidavit on Oct. 14, however, stating that Cox failed to deliver Conner and asked that an arrest warrant be issued.
“Neither [Bailey] nor Taylor County nor Campbellsville city law enforcement nor others seeking to locate the child have been successful,” the affidavit states.
An arrest warrant was issued Oct. 14 and remains active at press time.
According to the warrant, Cox is to be held without bond, and until she complies with the temporary custody order.
According to a report written by Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert S. Gribbins on Oct. 17, Cox was hiding Conner and refused to follow the temporary custody order.
Newton said on Tuesday that Cox was told to surrender Conner but has failed to do so. As a result, he said, Conner was listed as missing on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website, www.missingkids.com.
Newton said his deputies have gone to great lengths to look for Cox and Conner, to the point that they have been accused of harassment.
He said Cox was given time after a court appearance to give Conner to Bailey.
“Nobody’s seen her since,” Newton said.
“Everybody’s been notified. We’re looking for her.”
Newton said posters are being put up to notify the public that Conner is missing. He said he appreciates any help the public might be able to give.
On Wednesday morning, McCain said she hasn’t been given permission from Bailey to comment on the situation.
Avritt said Wednesday morning that Conner isn’t missing.
“The child is with its mother,” he said.
He said Social Services staff members have met with Cox and took no action to take Conner away from her.
Avritt said Bailey has paternity test results from a drug store DNA test, which have no legal standing. He said Cox has a state-issued birth certificate that states that Eric Joseph Keith is Conner’s father.
Avritt said he has filed a petition challenging the actions taken in Taylor Circuit Court. That document was filed at the Court of Appeals in Frankfort on Oct. 18. Local court records state that the case won’t move forward until that petition is resolved.
Avritt said Conner was removed from Cox’s custody without any notice that a petition for custody had been filed.
“The Circuit Court acted outside of its jurisdiction,” Avritt said. “We’re expecting a ruling any time. Until then, we’re not going to hand the child over.”
As of press time, there were no court dates set in Bailey’s case.
Anyone with information about Conner’s whereabouts is asked to call the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office at 465-4351.