Originally created 08/02/96

Abandoned Boy's Mom Wants Him Back; New York Presses Charges



AIKEN - A 19-year-old Aiken woman who left her five-year-old son in a Brooklyn toy store in March agreed Thursday to return to New York to face child abandonment charges. Tamekka Adams spent her second night in jail this week after Brooklyn authorities issued a fugitive warrant for her arrest on Wednesday. She was taken into custody at her Sassafras Road home by Aiken County sheriff's deputies about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

At a hearing Thursday morning, Ms. Adams stood silently in front of Magistrate Judge Rodger Edmonds in Central Court as she waived her right to be extradited.

Ms. Adams clothed in an orange Aiken County Detention Center jump suit made no statements to the judge other than to say a relieved "I do" when asked if she wanted to return to New York.

Ms. Adams told The Augusta Chronicle on Wednesday that not being able to provide for her son Jonathan drove her to leave him in a Toys 'R' Us in Brooklyn on March 21.

Jonathan, who was born in South Carolina, is now in a New York foster home.

Ms. Adams had originally been taken into custody Monday night on a bench warrant for failing to appear in court to face a bad check charge. New York police asked Aiken County investigators to interview her about the boy, but had not officially charged her. She was released Tuesday after she paid a $376 fine.

After she appeared before the judge on Thursday, Ms. Adams sat alone and read a carbon copy of the extradition form while the magistrate discussed bail for another woman in a domestic violence case. She was then taken out of the court room and returned to her cell.

New York police are expected to pick her up in Aiken sometime today and return her to Brooklyn by Saturday, said Patrick Clark, a spokesman for Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes.

A criminal complainant issued Wednesday charged Ms. Adams with abandonment of a child - a felony - and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, she could face a maximum of four years in prison.

The complaint cites interviews with Jonathan who is also referred to as Vincent Philip Nelson - his legal name - in the document, a children's services employee and Maj. Jody Rowland of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Meanwhile, the New York grand jury was deliberating whether to issue an indictment against Ms. Adams, but had not done so late Thursday, Mr. Clark said. Maj. Rowland flew to New York early Thursday to testify before the grand jury.

Ms. Adams told The Chronicle on Wednesday that she now wants her son back and is more mentally and financially able to care for him.

But, New York children's services officials said it's not likely Jonathan will be given back to Ms. Adams. A family court judge will decide in a hearing on the matter Aug. 13.

At the same time, a number of people arguing who should have custody of the child.

Dora Abebe, Jonathan's maternal grandmother now living in Newark, N.J., told The New York Post that she plans to fight for custody of Jonathan.

Joseph Green of Columbia said he's Jonathan father and wants custody. He said he is willing to take a blood test to prove it. Ms. Adams and her mother have both said he's the father.

Mr. Green said Thursday he dated Ms. Adams when their families lived in the same low-income housing development in Columbia. They broke up, not knowing she was pregnant, he said.

However, a Columbia, S.C., woman said Wednesday she is Jonathan's grandmother and her son Vincent Philip Nelson is actually Jonathan's father. Mr. Nelson is currently serving a 14-year sentence for armed robbery.

Arnetha Nelson said her son took Ms. Adams to the hospital when she gave birth in 1991.

"I'm his grandmother," she said. "He doesn't belong in a foster home. He belongs with me."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.