Kristi Gilley kidnapping case: custody battle uncovered

Missouri prosecutors have revealed more about the circumstances of the custody battle, which they say preceded her own mother’s abduction of two young children.

Law&Crime received the search warrant, probable cause statement and claim in the counterclaim Kristi Nicole Gilley, the 36-year-old who was arrested in Florida last week after she was allegedly seen shopping in disguise at a Winn Dixie store. According to authorities in Clay County, Missouri, Gilley was kidnapped Brooke Gilleynow 11, and Adrian Gilley, now 12, on April 14, 2022 after refusing to attend a custody case that was in court that day. The suspect is said to have brought the children to California.

“Pending a custody agreement, without notice and without the approval of the courts, Kristi moved to the state of California with her two children. Kristi refused to appear on 4/14/2022 for a custody amendment hearing in Clay County, where she is from,” Det said. Hillary harmony the Liberty Police Department (LPD) in Missouri. “Through an ‘attorney,’ Kristi has refused to cooperate with the court’s decision to grant Blake sole custody of their children.”

The children’s father, identified as Blake E Gilley, LPD told that he and the defendant previously had a joint custody arrangement that stemmed from a case in Randall County, Texas. However, the father said that after her divorce, Kristi Gilley moved into a house in Liberty, Mo., with her sister. Documents said Kristi Gilley attempted to change custody arrangements through the legal system, but ultimately failed to show a planned trial and took off across the country with the children — identified only as BMG and AWG in documents.

“Kristi filed for a custody change in Clay County Circuit Court (18CY-CV03248-02) and had requested numerous continuations throughout the case. The case went to trial on April 14, 2022. Kristi tried to get another sequel but was turned down. Kristi did not appear in court and the court awarded Blake sole custody of the children,” the probable cause document said. “Kristi had been making it increasingly difficult for Blake to visit or speak to the children for quite some time and, as of 3/15/2022, has refused to even let Blake visit or speak to the children.”

Prosecutors said Blake Gilley learned from the Liberty School District that other school districts — one as far away as California — had requested the children’s school records.

Through contact with the Liberty School District, Blake learned that on March 8, 22, BMG’s records were requested from the Marigold School District in Chico, California, and AWG’s records were requested from an unspecified school district. The Chico, California Police Department conducted a social screening at Kristi’s grandfather’s home, but Kristi and her grandfather no longer live there. A school official from the Chico, California Police Department confirmed that the children were recently removed from the Marigold School District. I (Det. Harmon #216) contacted Kristi’s attorney, Jill Jones Soderman […] who said the following; She and Kristi would not cooperate with the Clay County Court because they believe the Clay County Court violated Kristi’s rights by denying Kristi the right to a due process. They requested an extension to the April 14, 2022 court date, which was denied. The children were safe and homeschooled. They would not be willing to go to court until they had gathered enough information and evidence that Blake should not have custody of the children. She didn’t want to name an address or city for Kristi and the children.

Although Missouri authorities said that “[m]Multiple attempts to contact Kristi directly and through her family members have had negative results,” the Susanville, California Police Department conducted a social inspection at an apartment building on June 19, 2022 and found Kristi Gilley and the children there.

“Dept. Shannon pointed out that the children appeared clean and healthy,” the documents continued.

Blake Gilley, who is now reunited with the kids, reportedly told NBC News that the kids told him Kristi Gilley tried to avoid getting caught by hopping from Airbnb to Airbnb across the United States and eventually making it made it to Florida.

“My children were missing. I didn’t know where they are […] This is the greatest fear in the world,” the father is said to have said. “To say I was scared and freaked out is an understatement.”

The defendant remains in the Alachua County, Florida jail and is reportedly planning to fight extradition to Missouri.

Law&Crime contacted Kristi Gilley’s attorney Maurice McDaniel for comment.

Upon Gilley’s return to the Show Me State, she would face charges of parental kidnapping. Prosecutors noted that Gilley could face 1 to 4 years in prison if convicted as charged.

Read the documents here, here and here.

[Images via High Springs Police Department, California Attorney General’s Office]

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