Alberta Child Who Was Abducted Found Dead

10950859361151CDPIn a heart wrenching story out of Alberta today, we learned that nine-year-old Amber Lucius was abducted by her mother, and later found dead in a truck parked on a country road in Millet, a farming community outside of Calgary with a population of 2,000. Her mother was with her when she was discovered. How could this have happened and what can be done to prevent the violence that rears its ugly head in high-conflict custody battles between warring parents?

Amber’s parents, Laura Coward and Duane Lucius, were married in 2004 and separated three years later in 2007. In the beginning of their post-separation parenting, the parties shared joint custody and Amber lived primarily with her mother. I should clarify that joint custody does not mean equal parenting time, it means equal decision-making, a concept that is illusory where one parent refuses to collaborate with the other.

Ms. Coward was one of those mothers who made her former husband’s life a living nightmare by refusing to facilitate his parenting time with Amber, a situation that led to ten court orders intended to address Ms. Coward’s refusal to accommodate Mr. Lucius’ parenting time. It took ten court orders before the Court finally transferred custody of Amber from her mother to Mr. Lucius in June of 2013. Ms. Coward was given specified visitation time with her daughter.

In April of 2014 Ms. Coward again breached a court order and refused to return Amber to her father’s home. The RCMP intervened at that time and it appears that Ms. Coward’s parenting time was restricted until a judge made an order last week permitting Ms. Coward to have four consecutive days with Amber over the Labour Day long weekend. But Ms. Coward had planned something far more sinister than spending four lazy summer days with her daughter.

She picked up Amber on Thursday and was to return her on Sunday, however, on Sunday night there was no sign of Amber or her mother. Regrettably, there was no Amber alert for Amber Lucius either. What police have learned since finding Amber’s body and arresting Ms. Coward for child abduction is that she had given notice on her rental premises and a new family had already moved into her former home. Where she was going has not yet been determined and neither has Amber’s cause of death. No charges have yet been brought for the girl’s death pending an autopsy next week.

The community of Millet is understandably shocked by Amber’s death, the second tragedy in Millet in the last few years. In 2010 Allyson McConnell drowned her two sons, ages 2 1/2 and 10 months in a bathtub in her home and attempted to commit suicide. She was convicted of manslaughter, sentenced to six years, and spent 15 months in a psychiatric hospital until her deportation back to her home country of Australia. Shortly after returning to Australia she took her own life. Allyson McConnell was also engaged in a custody battle with her estranged husband.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


One thought on “Alberta Child Who Was Abducted Found Dead

  1. We have been involved in ongoing custody disputes with my husband’s ex-wife for 5 years. There have been several orders, and the level of interference, aggression, and hostility, and unproved alienation is so stressful on our family. There is no reason for it other than his ex-wife is angry and has control issues, and a mental health history that shows difficulty with relationships, and other….the level of stress on the children is paramount but the courts seem to take things as face-value (he said-she said) when you don’t have legal representation. Legal Aid in our province denied us not due to income but because child support was also an issue in question. The level that the other parent is intertwined in her child and eventually determines that child’s decision making process (angry at father, resentful, gets put in middle, chooses mom’s side) is so damaging. She wants her son to hate his dad, and his family and his brothers (our family). It’s making everyone lives hell, and the courts really are reluctant to change the status quo (living arrangements) because of no lengthy (costly) report that proves he needs to be kept away from her for some time, and have supervised visits. The child needs report is done by a lay counselor who takes it at face value as well and doesn’t investigate WHY the son doesn’t want to come visit, or if his mother has continually put in his head that his father is evil. Unfortunately, if you don’t have money to cover legal expenses or representation and know how to prove your case, or if the other parent keeps breaking the court order and no consequences for it, then you are pretty much SOL. It’s discouraging, and it’s upsetting, and most of all-the child is damaged by the motives of adults/guardians that should be looking out for them.

    Instead of solely focusing on the amber alert protocol I think that consequences for breaking court order even in provincial family court need to be more strict. There needs to be a clear way of having a person held accountable, especially for those who don’t have legal help. There also needs to be stricter consequences for those who are purposely breaking a court order, or doing things to interfere with another parent’s access (calling every day, texting son repeatedly, changing the times, booking parties and events on the other parents time, etc etc). If there was a clear outlined clause in the court order in Amber Lucius parent’s court order (police clause) then I assume the police would have apprehended the child earlier OR issued an amber alert as soon as the mother did not return the child to the father.

    Thank you Lawdiva for bringing awareness to the world of family court. Those of us involved that feel helpless over the actions of a hostile parent need something to look forward to, for change, in the court system/process for assuring that children are not harmed emotionally or physically by a guardian.

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