Girl found in Humboldt County returned to home state

Allison White

The Times-Standard

A missing 1-year-old girl, allegedly abducted by her parents and found in Humboldt County, has been returned to her home state of Pennsylvania.\

Earlier this year, parents Jesse Ward Hartman, 23, and Rose Mary Stonesifer, 22, lived in Carlisle, Pa., and received a court order to turn their 5-month-old daughter over to the state, said Cumberland County District Attorney Detective David Smith. He would not release details outlining the reasons why the girl was made a ward of the state.

The unmarried couple instead took their daughter to Humboldt County in March, where Stonesifer’s father lives in Mad River. The girl was considered an "endangered missing person," most likely because her parents had been deemed unfit to care for her, Smith said. It did not appear there was a threat of physical harm to the child, he said.

Hartman, Stonesifer and their daughter, now about 1 year old, were found Oct. 18 in a cabin in southeastern Humboldt County on Swayback Ridge off Buck Mountain Road. Deputy U.S. Marshal Brad Gill said the three were found with six other male adults who were processing and trimming marijuana. Due to a lack of backup, only the parents were arrested and the child was taken into protective custody.

"There were only three of us out there and our goal was to find the little girl and the two parents," Gill said.

Residents in that area assisted authorities in locating the cabin and had raised concerns about their new neighbors.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children put up posters of the parents and the girl in Humboldt County in hopes of finding the girl, said Executive Director for Missing Children Bob Lowery.

"I think that’s where we got lucky," he said.

A few residents called in to report sightings of the parents, and through a well-coordinated effort among a number of agencies, they were able to find the parents and their daughter, Lowery said.

The child was taken into the custody of Humboldt County Child Welfare Services, and was sent back to Pennsylvania earlier this week.

"We know the child is safe now," Lowery said.

The girl will go into foster care in her home state. Her parents await possible extradition from Humboldt County back to Pennsylvania to face charges of custodial interference.