Dad granted custody of daughter attacked in woods, her sister

Mother moves girls out of state after 8-year-old recovers

By Heather Leigh - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The father of an 8-year-old attacked and sexually assaulted last August in Arlington has been granted custody of the girl and her sister.

Denneth Shearer has been fighting to see his children while in a domestic battle with his wife. They are getting a divorce and had taken out injunctions on each other.

A Duval County judge has ruled that Holly Shearer violated a court order by moving out of state and taking their kids with her and ordered the children turned over to the father so he can return them to Florida.

All he has to do is get to North Carolina and pick them up.

“It means a lot right now," Denneth Shearer said. "When I get to North Carolina, I get reunited with my children. I’ve been waiting on this for a long time."

His daughters were taken there shortly after his 8-year-old recovered from injuries from the August 2015 attack in a wooded area of Arlington near their apartment.

“I know they want to see me as much as I want to see them. I’m pretty sure they miss me. I’m pretty sure they ask about me," he said.

Shearer said he hasn't seen his daughter since three days after the attack, when he saw her in the hospital.

According to what is called a pick-up order, "The court orders and directs any and all law enforcement officers in any state to accompany the husband, Denneth Shearer, to immediately pick up the minor children and place them into his custody."

“I’m going to tell them how much I missed them," Shearer said. "I am going to let them know I never stopped trying, never stopped pursuing them.”

The attacker was never captured. Shearer said he also hopes whoever hurt his daughter will do the right thing…

"I don’t understand how they can sleep at night," Shearer said. "Sometimes I think, have I passed this person a flier? Do they watch the news? My message is: 'If you have any type of decency in you, turn yourself in.'"

Crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that once Shearer and the girls get back to Jacksonville, most likely the divorce will continue going through. Then they can decide on custody for the future.

"The judge makes a decision on who has custody of the children. They are not divorced and since this is the child’s home state, this is called a pick-up order. Law enforcement in any state are required to hand over the child to the father," Smith said.

Denneth Shearer has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to make the trip to North Carolina.

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