Kidnapping Case Involving Apache Junction Girl and Alleged Alabama `Indian Tribe' Ongoing After Four Years

More than four years ago, we wrote about the quirky kidnapping case involving (then) 4-year-old Raven Laws, some local Native-Americans and a quasi-Indian tribe based in Alabama.


The name of the story was "Indian Givers," and here it is.

Interested readers should hit that link button for a primer, because you'll need one.

The twisted tale's cast of characters included Raven's troubled mother (a methamphetamine user with a felony record), a well-meaning (if ill-advised) Cave Creek couple whom had assumed surrogate parenting duties for the child until the courts shut them down, two local Native-American woman who somehow were connected with Alabama's Cherokee River Indian Community (CRIC), and a Maricopa County judge who had some complicated and weighty decisions.

The local women, Brenda Byers-Courture and Iva Marie Peters-Badoni, kidnapped Raven from her mother's home in January 2007. The girl's disappearance was big news here in the Valley.


They kept the child at a west Phoenix home for two days -- that usually is called "kidnapping" -- until police tracked Raven down on the evening of January 24, 2007, after getting a tip. The youngster was unharmed, and the authorities immediately returned her to her mother.

Byers-Couture and Badoni, both Phoenix residents, originally were charged with kidnapping and custodial interference.

We had forgotten about the criminal case until someone recently dropped us a line to say that Byers-Couture plea-bargained to a much-reduced charge a few weeks ago and is awaiting sentencing.

The Phoenix woman pleaded guilty to a single count of custodial interference, which is the lowest-level felony under Arizona law and could be considered a misdemeanor after she completes her probationary period.

Byers-Couture is scheduled for sentencing on October 4 before Superior Court Judge Randall Warner.

The Cave Creek couple, Jacob and Letha Bessinger, still face charges of custodial interference, as does Peters-Badoni.

We're not sure yet how Raven, who now is seven or eight years old, is doing.

We will drop in at the Byers-Couture sentencing next Tuesday and might get a hint.

Weird story. 

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin