Grandmother Accused Of Kidnapping Speaks Of Her Life On The Run

Thursday, April 5th 2007, 9:03 pm
By: News On 6

A grandmother arrested in Tulsa for allegedly kidnapping her grandson two years ago speaks exclusively with The News On 6. Doris Garretson says she went on the run in order to protect the little boy from Illinois, not hurt him. It was a flyer, which shows Doris and the child she's been calling Joey, whose real name is Jonathan Smalley, that ended Garretson’s life on the run.

Garretson told her story to News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright. Lori reports a neighbor recognized Doris Garretson and Jonathan Smalley from a missing person flyer and called Tulsa Police. Authorities then took Jonathan into protective custody and took Doris to the Tulsa County jail.

"Prayer changes people and people change things," said Doris Garretson.

Prayer is about the only hope Doris Garretson has left. She was released from the Tulsa County jail after 24 hours because she agreed to go back to Peoria, Illinois for a court hearing concerning her grandson, Jonathan, who's now 6 years old.

Garretson 's been raising the little boy, who was born with developmental difficulties, because her daughter has emotional problems. She says Illinois DCFS took Jonathan for six weeks, over a dispute on which doctor he should see.

"There was a hearing and a judge returned him to my custody," Garretson said.

She says the DCFS workers hassled her and wouldn't let her make basic decisions about his care and schooling, so she took off.

"I was supposed to go to a meeting at school on September 4, 2004, instead, I just left. I wasn't supposed to," said the grandmother.

She went to Tennessee where she says social workers were kind and helpful, but when Illinois threatened to come get the boy, he was placed in protective custody. When no one showed in 48 hours, she got him back, and when Illinois threatened to come after him again, she bolted.

"I panicked and left and came to Tulsa,” said Garretson. “Didn't put a warrant out for my arrest until January 23, 2006."

So, she called Jonathan, Joey and dyed his hair red. Still, they ventured out to places like Chuck E. Cheese, a splash park and to smell the roses. She says he's come a long way from the boy who couldn't walk or talk.

"He's doing better than he ever has. He talks now, just about five months ago started putting sentences together. He talks, runs, has a trampoline, he jumps on that, he rides his little bike," she said.

Garretson hopes the judge will weigh her love for the child against her defying the court order, and return the little boy to the only relative he's ever known.

Doris is trying to raise bus money to get to the hearing in Illinois next Thursday. She says the caseworker already told her she'll never get Jonathan back. She says if that happens, she'll at least hope they give her visitation with him.

Related story:

4/4/2007 - Missing Illinois Boy Found In Tulsa