Lucy’s mother only has a few weeks to meet with her missing daughter. Despite criminal charges, the court cannot force Lucy’s father to reveal her hiding place.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – It’s safe to say that it wasn’t the wedding her mother Kathy dreamed of for her daughter when Frontenac-born Lucy Peterson married.
Teena Kilo, Lucy’s great-aunt, remembers her reaction when she found out about it. “Married? What are you talking about, married? She’s 17. How, how is that possible? Who can allow this?” She said.
It was the latest turn in a bitter multi-year custody battle between Lucy’s parents, Kathy Kilo Peterson and Steven Peterson.
Kathy had sole custody of Lucy in August 2020 when Steven brought Lucy to Wyoming. There, Lucy married a 30-year-old man as a minor. Now Steven has been arrested and Lucy is missing. It has been a dramatic year for members of Lucy’s family who seek help from the public in finding her.
“Somebody’s got to do something here,” Kathy told the I-Team.
A fraudulent marriage
The man Lucy married in Wyoming is the son of one of Steven’s friends, a Tennessee musician whom Lucy admitted in court, whom she barely knows.
In January 2021, the Petersons family judge wrote: “In her testimony, Lucy couldn’t remember when she first met [her husband] or how often she has actually seen him in person over the years … Lucy couldn’t give her husband’s cell phone number, email address, postal address or the name of the band he plays in … [him], does not live with him (or has no plans to live with him) and has no plans to start a family with him. “
The judge added: “[Steven] has shown that he is ready to evict his daughter from the state, mortgage her, marry a man she barely knows, and take her out of school, all in an effort to repair his old wounds from his divorce treat yourself [Kathy]. “
“I was shocked, but somehow not surprised that he would pull something like this,” said Teena Kilo. “To emancipate her from the Missouri court. I mean this is so awful. How can it get any worse? “
“I don’t even know how to put it,” said Kathy. “Lucy married a 30-year-old man in Wyoming. And that she is now magically grown up. So mom has no parental rights. “
This was the case until the Wyoming court annulled the marriage in February 2021.
The limits of the reach of the family court
Although Kathy has sole custody and was granted sole custody in January, Kathy has not seen her daughter in almost a year.
Kathy says it all started with a violent incident in 2005 that ended the Petersons’ marriage.
“Steve tried to kill me and took us hostage at our Winghaven home,” she said. Lucy was just 2 years old.
Steven was convicted in 2008 and given a suspended sentence. The case was eventually closed.
The custody agreement they signed upon divorce fell apart in 2017. Court records show that Steven Peterson was convicted at least twice in disregard of court orders. They also reveal that Steven Peterson “booked 42 trips for Lucy in two years” without informing the court, eventually took her out of school at Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, and refused to leave Lucy in Kathy’s care to be returned when the court asked.
“There were no consequences. Threat of jail, threat of it, threat of it, but not even a slap in the face. She is completely isolated. She missed her entire junior year here, ”said Kathy.
In January, a court appointed therapist testified that Lucy had been “psychologically abused” by her father. The judge ordered Steven to seek advice and stay away from Lucy for at least 90 days. There was nothing the family court could do to enforce its own decisions or bring Lucy back to court.
“I have a worthless piece of paper that says, ‘Kathy has sole legal and physical custody’ of my missing daughter,” said Kathy.
Eventually it became a matter for the criminal courts to enforce them.
“The family meal is uniquely located that you can order some of these things. But their hands are tied for actual enforcement, ”said Tim Lohmar, St. Charles County attorney.
“The worst of the worst”
An arrest warrant was issued for Steven Peterson in April.
“In a case like this that is being filed, it’s worst of the worst in terms of parental alienation or, in some cases, brainwashing, manipulation,” Lohmar said.
Steven Peterson is charged with disrupting custody. Lucy’s whereabouts are still unknown. Lohmar says the investigators have not yet been able to locate them.
“We asked the court to put a condition on his bond that he should provide the whereabouts of the victim, in this case the child. The court denied that, ”said Lohmar. “Forcing him to do such a thing would be a violation of his rights under the fifth amendment.”
In essence, the court said that if Steven Peterson identified Lucy’s whereabouts, it would be evidence that he committed the crime he is charged with. At the moment he is out and about with a GPS monitor.
The I-Team tried repeatedly to contact Steven Peterson, his family members, his legal guardians, the man who married Lucy, his relatives, and even Lucy herself by phone, in person, and by email. They did not respond to 5 On Your Side’s request for an interview or comment.
Lucy’s 18th birthday is only a few weeks away. At this point the court can no longer tell her what to do. Kathy and her family hope they can find Lucy before she is legally lost to them forever. Kathy literally counted the days.
“[In] For three and a half years, out of 1,322 days, I saw her 28 times, ”said Kathy. “I will never give up. I will never give up.”
“Maybe one day Lucille will just come back and say, ‘Here I am. Are you bringing me back? ‘”Said Teena Kilo. “Of course we will.”
Anyone with information on Lucy’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or the Frontenac Police Department at 314-737-4600. to turn
Comments are closed.