Family of baby abandoned in NYC wants to bring child home to NC

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJuly 9, 2014 

The family of a 10-month-old girl allegedly abandoned by her mother in a New York City subway station is trying to raise money to go to the city to bring the girl home to North Carolina, according to her great aunt.

Lawanna Edmonds of Roanoke Rapids says the family of Mylanea Love Edmonds hopes to win custody of her. The city has cared for Mylanea since Monday when police say her mother, Frankea Aleasha Dabbs, left her in a Manhattan subway station.

“We want to get the baby to a place that’s stable,” said Edmonds, 60. “We are trying to get everyone in the family to pitch in to get Mylanea back. She belongs with her family. New York is not a place for children.”

Dabbs, 20, has been charged with felony child abandonment and acting in a manner injurious to a child. She made her first court appearance Tuesday and was denied bail, a spokeswoman with the New York City District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

The family expects Frankea Dabbs’ father, Franklin Dabbs, to assume custody of Mylanea if she is allowed to return to North Carolina.

Edmonds said she and Franklin Dabbs, 57, contacted New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, seeking custody of Mylanea. The New York agency contacted the Halifax County Department of Social Services, which told Edmonds on Wednesday that it will conduct background checks of everyone who would be involved with Mylanea.

Edmonds said Franklin Dabbs left his job in Wilmington and moved to Roanoke Rapids several months ago because “he knew that Frankea needed help.”

“He went and got a job here,” Edmonds said. “Right now he’s living with me and my husband, but he’s saving up to get his own place.”

Mylanea has been in the custody of New York’s children’s services agency since Monday, said spokesman Chris McKniff.

McKniff said the agency has a bias toward keeping children with family members and noted that if Mylanea’s family goes before a judge it could gain custody of her “fairly quickly.”

“Generally, that’s what we do,” he said. “That’s actually our first priority. If there is a relative or a father that we determine is an appropriate caregiver, that’s where we look first.”

Edmonds said Mylanea is part of a close-knit family that does not believe in allowing its children to go into “the system.”

Frankea Dabbs, who will turn 21 on July 20, lived in various places in North Carolina, including Raleigh, where she was supposed to appear in court last week on charges related to prostitution. Prior to her arrest in New York, Dabbs lived in obscurity: a troubled young woman whose nomadic life led to a long list of relatively minor criminal charges in the Triangle, Charlotte, Northampton County and Richland County, S.C.

Edmonds said her niece went into a downward spiral after she witnessed the shooting death of Mylanea’s father, Donald Jerome “DJ” Harvey, at his home near Clinton in November 2012. Edmonds thinks her niece’s mental condition deteriorated even more in recent weeks.

Police found Dabbs just after midnight Tuesday near Central Park after someone recognized her from photos and video released by police showing a woman pushing the child through a subway turnstile gate.

According to the New York Times, a prosecutor at Tuesday’s court appearance outlined how Dabbs had abandoned her daughter. “She was very vulnerable,” Eun-Ha Kim said of the baby, adding, “The defendant has shown no remorse.”

Kimberly Shubert, a court-appointed lawyer who spoke on Dabbs’ behalf, asked that she be released on her own recognizance. Reached on Wednesday, Shubert declined to comment.

Edmonds and other family members are waiting patiently while agencies in New York and Halifax County determine if Mylanea should return home to North Carolina.

“We know they have a job to do,” she said. “I don’t think they are trying to be cruel. I think they really want to help us out.”

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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