Mom accused of kidnapping 2 kids faces custody hearing for 3rd
Courtney Peck caught by bounty hunter in Jacksonville, police say
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A mother accused of kidnapping two of her daughters from her ex-husband in Detroit was in juvenile court Tuesday morning in Jacksonville for a hearing about the custody of her third daughter.
Police said Courtney Ann Peck, 39, was arrested on two federal kidnapping charges after she failed to return James Peck’s two daughters to his Northville Township home two weeks ago.
James Peck is not the father of Courtney Peck's 1-year-old daughter.
James Peck's children, 8-year-old Caitlin and 5-year-old Charlotte, were supposed to be back with their father in a Detroit suburb on Aug. 21, but police said they had evidence that they were with their mother in South Carolina on Aug. 24 and in Georgia on Aug. 26.
The girls were found early Sunday morning with Courtney Peck in Jacksonville after a bounty hunter tracked her down.
James Peck said he had an emotional night after his daughters were returned to him in Jacksonville.
"My gosh, I was so excited," James Peck said. "My youngest daughter was glued to my arm all night. We were just so excited to see them."
James Peck took his daughters back to Michigan on Monday, and they were expected to start school on Tuesday.
Courtney Peck's 1-year-old daughter is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families in Jacksonville. DCF is investigating, and the court attempted to determine at a hearing on Tuesday who should get custody of the girl while Courtney Peck is in jail.
"We began our investigation as soon as we were notified about this situation," DCF spokesman John Harrell said. "We are definitely concerned, very concerned. We want to work to ensure that the child is safe, and any services that can be provided to help the child, we will do that."
Courtney Peck told the court that she does not know who the 1-year-old girl's father is.
When she was found by the bounty hunters in Atlantic Beach, Peck was staying with a man, but she told the court Tuesday that the man is just a friend and is not her child's father.
Courtney Peck's mother, Pamela Ann Gilbert, was at the hearing Tuesday. Both Courtney Peck and her mother have Native American lineage, and it’s possible that their tribe in Michigan might have first rights to child custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Courtney Peck is being held without bond in Duval County.
She was set to have an extradition hearing on Tuesday, but it was canceled because the two federal kidnapping charges trump the felony cases in Michigan. Peck will now go into the custody of U.S. marshals and will appear before a federal judge.
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