FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Four children who were taken by their father, only to be found later unharmed, remain in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
The decision to keep them where they were, at least for the time being, was made by a judge at a dependency hearing Wednesday morning.
James Weathers, 24, and his girlfriend Julie Ann Pilkington, 22, disappeared with the kids on Monday March 10th as the Department of Children and Families was preparing to remove them from his custody.
Weathers told the court he took off with the children because he know child welfare investigators were on the way to investigate allegations of drug use.
“I said let me get out of here before I hurt somebody,” said Weathers.
Weathers said once he learned that the police had put out an alert asking for the public to be on the lookout for them, he called child welfare services and the police to let them know what was going on.
“I said I’ll provide you with the exact location where I’m at once I get to where I’m going. I wasn’t going to have a scene brought to the restaurant where I’m sitting with my children,” said Weathers. “I wasn’t running from the police because I was on the phone with police officers the whole time.”
Weathers and the children were found at an apartment building on 174th Street in Sunny Isles Beach around 3:30 Monday afternoon. Weathers was temporarily detained by Hollywood police but no charges were filed.
Weathers wasn’t happy about the judge’s decision to remove the children from his custody. He told the court he’s a good dad, a good provider, loves his children and has done everything that has been asked of him to make sure his being a good parent. It was very clear he was upset after the hearing since he was hoping to regain custody of his kids.
During the hearing, the judge ordered Weathers to have a drug test. They’ll be another hearing in April, which depending on the outcome of the drug test, the judge will make further decisions on the case.
The news that the children would remain, at least for now, in foster care didn’t sit well with their mother, Christine Cuba, who had wanted the judge to grant her mother custody. A DCF representative told the judge the maternal grandmother’s home in Miami-Dade wasn’t suitable.
Cuba lost custody of her children last year when the water in her apartment was turned off.
Weathers has prior arrests for battery in three separate domestic violence cases, burglary, petty theft, grand theft, reckless driving, and cannabis possession.
There is also a history of violence between the couple.
According to a Hollywood Police report obtained by CBS4 News a little more than a year ago, Weathers was arrested for punching and kicking Cuba while she was holding one of the kids then trying to take the child.
The report says Weathers left and was later arrested.
Family members say the couple was trying to be civil for the sake of the children and that Weathers is a loving father.