Girl In A Box- Mental Warrants, Homeless, Addiction & Family Members Who Are Left Behind…

Yesterday at about 8AM, my twin sister drove to the location of the box that Stephaney (her daughter) had refused to leave on Sunday at 5:13PM. Stephaney wasn’t there. Cindy had planned to talk Stephaney into getting off the streets and out of the box but, she would never have the opportunity. I was leery of Cindy going alone to the box but had a Client meeting at my home office and Cindy wasn’t willing to wait to confront Stephaney. 

Last October, Stephaney had travelled with her mother and I to California. Stephaney had always wanted to visit California and I thought she would be excited. Stephaney was so late getting to my home that she nearly missed the flight. I kept calling and calling my niece and finally left a message that night on the cell phone Cindy was paying for. “We are not going to miss our flight. Your mother and I are under contract and will not under any circumstances let the production company down. If you aren’t here within the hour when my driver arrives to take us to DFW, you won’t be going with us. I’m never late and I told you to be here hours ago.” 

Forty five minutes later, my disheveled niece finally arrived at my home. She was behaving somewhat erratically but, I didn’t want to start another argument regarding where she had been, who she had been with or what she had been doing. 

Instead, Cindy and I shook off Stephaney upsetting my schedule and we boarded the plane with Cindy and I sitting together and Stephaney being several rows behind us. 

Cindy and I also managed to get through a week in California with Stephaney not wandering off or disappearing. It wasn’t our best trip to LA but, thanks to our anxiety medication and ability to be “on” under pressure, filming went well. 

Cindy and I are performers. We are excellent actresses because we both compartmentalize. The Mike goes on and our problems go off. With cameras rolling, no one is aware of what problems we face. 

In fact, very few of our Clients are aware of the struggles we have. Being “on” is something we have learned to do for years now. If I was on location shooting a commercial or print ad, Cindy wouldn’t tell me what was going on. We have never disrupted each other while working. Unless someone was in the hospital, calls to us while working went unanswered. 

Disruptions by family while working were a no no. Cindy and I made this rule years ago. It’s difficult to work when you know Stephaney had stolen Cindy’s car or notice one of your credit cards is missing. 

It’s difficult not to scream your head off at Stephaney for consistently screwing up your predictable well planned schedule or your life. 

Cindy and I were scheduled to film for two days but, we had also had a few days to visit my sister in Lompoc and show Stephaney the state she had left as a child to move to Texas. There was no way I would leave my rental with Stephaney or Stephaney alone to wander off in LA. 

To “get around” my inability to trust Stephaney, I called my producer and had Stephaney placed in the audience. Stephaney rode with us onto the studio lot. I’m embarrassed to admit this but, Stephaney had no access to drugs in California because at no point was she alone. I monitored my niece on her trip to LA. I can’t afford disruptions when we are filming. I was careful to keep an eye on Stephaney. 

Having to orchestrate my niece in LA wasn’t easy but it was necessary. Stephaney actually enjoyed being filmed in the studio audience and didn’t do anything to embarrass her mother or I. 

Stephaney was “out of her environment” and therefore, well mannered. Stephaney has never been on a studio lot or sound stage and found her experience fun and fascinating. Cindy and I are “old hats” and accustomed to being miked up. We’ve learned what not to do while wearing a Mike. We don’t discuss our family. We know when to look happy or sad and while filming in Texas three years ago and asked by a director if we “could cry on command” did so with ease. How? Our lives. 

Have you ever noticed the difference between an entertainer and a performer? There is a difference. One can perform while the other can entertain. Perhaps our difficult lives have given us the ability to channel any emotion on command? I have no idea but, when a director instructs me to cry, I can. I cry about my worthless mother who should never have had children. I cry about the years of sexual abuse that went unchecked by other family members against Cindy and I as well as our sister at the hands of our grandfather and I cry about the rocks life has thrown at my sister and I. I cry because I know pain. 

Cindy laughs to hide her pain. I’m not hilarious but, Cindy is. Her ability to make me laugh under stressful circumstances is actually, incredible. As children, Cindy often made me smile. We had very little joy as children but, my sister was my rock. As adults, we are each other’s rock.

The three years of Stephaney being a part of her twin daughters lives was destroyed again by Stephaney’s choices. 

The twins who had three years of their mother acting normal and spending time with them were lost yet again. I cannot understand it. I may never understand it. By November 2017,  Stephaney was acting irrational. Cindy and I suspected she was on meth again. Fired from a job at El Fenix Stephaney had kept for three years while on probation, the drug testing being lifted from her probation is the reason that Stephaney not only lost her job but also the luxury of living with Cindy.

Off and on throughout the years, Stephaney has moved home after her latest stint in jail or rehab. The last time though was it for Cindy. No more chances. No more promises. No more lies. Cindy will never move Stephaney home again. Cindy is overwhelmed. 

Cindy has been raising Stephaney’s twin daughters since birth. They are now fourteen years old. Having Stephaney squatting next door to me from April to September gave my neighborhood far more excitement. From April to mid June, Stephaney had somehow managed to get a very good job within a mile from Byers Ave and was behaving normally. She was on her medication and she was paying her fines. I was ecstatic to finally have gotten Stephaney back on track but, as usual, I was celebrating far too soon. 

“An addict will find any reason to celebrate even if they are celebrating the grand opening of a pack of cigarettes.”

Cindy Daniel 

By late June, Stephaney was punching holes in the walls of the guest home at the rambling estate next door to me. She was often gone walking the streets late at night and she had lost her job. I was again, devastated. I had no idea what to do about Stephaney. 

The mysterious owner of the three home estate who I had never seen in the 6 years of living in Westover Hills was finally located in October by police who responded to a call at the estate next door regarding “a woman behaving erratically.” The woman? My niece. 

Stephaney was on two of my surveillance cameras with the police. She admitted to squatting. Although I continued to attempt to get her into treatment, the police would transport her to JPS and JPS would release her. I watched her being handcuffed and involuntarily committed on my surveillance cameras as shocked neighbors stared in the alley at the wild eyed squatter that no one knew was my niece. 

Stephaney set up camp next door on her own. She knew the estate had been abandoned for years next door and decided to move in. No matter what I did to get her to move out, my efforts failed. 

For months, Stephaney either returned to the estate or didn’t. This went on and on. I never knew where she was. I spent all of my hours when not working attempting to find her and get her into treatment. 

My neighbors continued to report her. Hell, I called the police myself after finally getting her in my SUV and attempting to drive her treatment after she jumped out of my SUV while headed towards the hospital district. Stephaney absolutely would never volunteer to treatment. 

For a month, Stephaney was running wild in Weatherford. Unemployed and out of control. Many of Stephaney’s friends contacted us about seeing Stephaney dancing in the streets, screaming Bible verses and worst of all, talking to kids at a bus stop by January. 

The bus stop would be what actually started the revolving “Psych Door.” We had no idea how to control Stephaney. We were lost. Why was she talking to kids at a bus stop? 

Stephaney was kicked out of her mothers home in late October. A phone call from my sister furious and crying about a failed drug test was so disturbing that I offered to drive to Weatherford. 

My sister instructed Stephaney to pack and leave her home immediately due to the failed test. Cindy actually did 3 tests. As her twin daughters cried, the grief of losing their mother again to her choices rattled Cindy’s entire home. 

My niece, Leigh Ann loaded up her daughter, Madyson and the twins to leave the house while Cindy packed Stephaney’s car and wished her well. Stephaney would be living out of her car again as she has every time she’s made the choice to use meth. 

My sister and I will not tolerate Stephaney in our homes on drugs. Stephaney believes we can’t discern her drug use but, we can. The accusations of us talking about her. Taking apart remote controls. There are signs and we know the signs. Popping someone with a drug test is the only accurate way to know but, for Cindy and I the signs tell the story. 

Last Christmas, my niece was so out of control that I actually demanded that she leave my home. This has never happened before. Stephaney normally comes to unwrap gifts then leaves to go who knows where. Trying to have any degree of normality with someone acting irrational is something I can’t even describe. 

Last Christmas, Stephaney started arguments with her mother and I regarding “Makenna getting better gifts than Maryssa”  in front of her children who were happy & excitedly unwrapping their presents. Yes, I was angry about this. Cindy was angry too. Angry that Stephaney was complaining about gifts she hadn’t bought AND ruining yet another holiday at MY home. Angry that Stephaney was screwing up yet another holiday. Frustrated, depressed, disgusted. 

I have never kicked anyone out of my house in my life. But, if you had seen what Stephaney was doing to this family last Christmas, you would have made the same choice. 

Cindy and I were furious that Stephaney was high and drunk at Christine which was why she was mumbling to herself and starting arguments last Christmas. 

Stephaney at my bar guzzling alcohol with both hands. Stephaney bringing chaos and drama to my carefully orchestrated family gathering. 

For my entire life, having one stress free family event has been something that due to my family is impossible. 

This Christmas we can’t even find her. As her carefully wrapped gifts sit under my tree, I have no idea if Stephaney will ever open them. I have no idea where Stephaney is. I have no idea if Stephaney is even alive. 

Update 12-06-2018: Our own family is angry at Cindy and I for trying to help Stephaney over and over again. 

Today, I wrote a blog detailing why I’m so driven to find my niece and why certain members of my family aren’t a help and are more of a hindrance. If you missed it, here’s the link– Why Cindy and I Care But, No One Else Seems To.

Last month while at a TDCJ Hutchins Unit Prison Wedding with my Client, my niece was being transferred to a Group Home. I was anxious about Stephaney’s transition and what to expect but, hopeful (as usual) she would make a fresh start. This was Stephaney’s first Group Home. I was hopeful and leery about her screwing it up. Cindy was too. 

Work and family are actually combined in my life. There isn’t a clear line. The phone call from Stephaney during my bridal shoot with Rita disrupted, I “shook off” my anxiety about Stephaney AGAIN. 

Trying to focus on Clients with chaos awaiting me back in Fort Worth is stressful. I’ve managed to somehow act normal on location by putting my niece out of my mind for fourteen months now. My smile hides my pain. 

My feelings of the “unknown with Stephaney” have riddled blogs at Texas Twins Treasures, Texas Twins Events, & The Pawning Planners. Stephaney consistently disrupts our lives. 

Whatever I’m doing, Cindy is usually doing it with me. All of my blogs are diaries. My work and family seamlessly merge together in life and on blogs. 

Cindy and I field phone calls, emails, and other family disruptions on a regular basis. From my son to my nieces to my dad to my grandnieces, family conference calls while I’m on the road or in a Prison, venue or client meeting are actually “a regular occurrence.” 

If you missed the Pawning Planners Blog in November, here’s the link– Planning, Problems & Preparing.

Cindy and I are so furious at our consistent inability to make make Stephaney straighten up that I can’t even put my feelings about this into words. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m helpless. 

I’m also determined to find Stephaney and force her into treatment or Jail (I don’t care which) before she destroys our family. 

I’m losing the battle of trying to find Stephaney and watching my shattered twin sister suffer because her daughter is an addict. My twin grandnieces are embarrassed about their mother. We all are. Embarrassed, worried, horrified. 

Cindy and I go through the motions of trying to act normal in our abnormal world now. We have no choice. We must focus on Clients, grandkids and life. We must try to eat or sleep and stop fearing the worst but, it’s difficult. 

Stephaney is often angry and occasionally violent when on meth. She’s confrontational and unreasonable. Stephaney has ruined every family event for nearly 18 years. 

I cannot recall one family gathering since Stephaney was 6 or 7 that an argument wasn’t started. Stephaney and Leigh Ann have never really gotten along with each other the past 18 years. As kids, they bickered but didn’t fight. 

For years, my son also got along with both of his nieces but, after marrying, the relationship suffered greatly. The primary reason for this was Stephaney using meth. 

Stephaney terrorizing her sister and my sister while high again or Stephaney behaving so erratically that my son was afraid of her. 

We have endured YEARS of this with Stephaney. It’s become so bad this past year that my sister actually admitted that she wouldn’t be upset if Stephaney died on the street because she fears that Stephaney will continue putting us through Hell and eventually, her twin daughters when Cindy and I finally leave this earth. 

If you had been through what we have with Stephaney, you wouldn’t judge Cindy. Of course, Cindy was angry at the time she said this to me. Cindy and I are so sick of trying to pull Stephaney out of it that I had been thinking what Cindy actually said. 

If all we have to look forward to is more pain and sorrow due to Stephaney destroying her life, maybe Cindy was right. How much longer can we drag ourselves through this? How much longer before the stress of our search affects our health? 

How long did our mothers mother cry herself to sleep because our mother disrupted her life over and over by going to jail or disappearing again? I have no idea how grandma Tinney went through forty years of dealing with our mother? 

I’m actually not afraid of my niece which surprises everyone. My son is afraid of Stephaney. I’m the only one left who is determined to fix Stephaney. Cindy is giving up. Is it because I couldn’t fix my mom? 

My mom was a heroin addict. My mom allowed her friends to do things to all three of her daughters that no child should endure and if my mom hadn’t sold all four of her children for $50 each to go buy heroin, God knows where we would be today. My mom might’ve left us somewhere again only to never return. My mom made horrific choices that destroyed our family. 

Stephaney showed signs of erratic behavior by the time she was 13 but, by then Stephaney was already smoking pot, sneaking out of the house and skipping school. Cindy couldn’t control Stephaney. Mental illness or drug use? We didn’t know what to do. 

Stephaney had a car in May and a way to find drugs. By August 2018, Stephaney had lost her car but, still found a way to find drugs. 

This latest drug fueled ride with Stephaney the past is actually by far worse than any of the other times. Is it because she was sober for 3 years on probation? I have no idea but, I’m angry about not letting her go to prison in Oklahoma. 

I’m angry about my faith that Stephaney would get it together. I’m angry at being gullible enough to help her over and over again. I’m realizing now that I have unknowingly been an enabler. 

When Cindy wasn’t helping Stephaney, I was. She played us both and we both played along not knowing Stephaney would often “double dip” us both. Ask aunt Wendy for money for food and then ask Cindy for money for nails or gas. Stephaney is a player. A chameleon who often guilts you into getting her way. 

I’m horrified writing this and remembering where Cindy and I have been this past year. My heart aches. I don’t know how we skirted having heart attacks quite frankly. We have been through the ringer. 

For five days, a flyer regarding Stephaney’s disappearance from MHMR on Campus Drive in Fort Worth had been shared over 2600 times on social media. 

For five days, Cindy and I searched the steets, the shelters, the bus stops and hospitals. For five days, we didn’t sleep or eat. For five days, we feared Stephaney was dead. 

Every homeless person we stopped to ask about Stephaney had a cell phone. Stephaney could have at any time called her mother, Cindy or I but, chose not to. Why? Stephaney was high again and knew we would be upset about it. She knew we would be angry and hopeless about our inability to fix her.

If you’ve never been through searching for a missing family member with mental illness and addiction issues, be thankful. It’s a horrifying reality for many families who refuse to give up looking or trying to “fix” their relative. 

Families that are forced to mentally prepare themselves for police to contact them and advise them their loved one was found dead. We are one of those families. 

When Stephaney went missing, Cindy and I continued to call her cell phone while searching for her. Twenty two hours after Stephaney disappeared, a man answered her phone claiming to have bought it from another homeless man for fifteen dollars. 

Stephaney has never had the responsibility of caring for either of her twin daughters. My sister and I were at Cooks Childrens hospital with Makenna for a neurologist appointment when the phone was finally answered. 

Rather than focusing on Makenna’s health, we were as usual preoccupied worrying about Stephaney AGAIN. I was angry about this. How Stephaney manages to screw up our lives is best described by Cindy in her family Quotes used on Pawning Planners Apparel. 

“The SWEETEST grapes in the VINEYARD, were GROWN from UGLIEST vines” (don’t judge folks by their family). 

Cindy and I had a heroin addicted mother. Cindy and I had a child molesting grandfather. Cindy and I hate drugs. We occasionally hate Stephaney. 

But, Cindy and I couldn’t choose our family. We chose to be different. We chose to be survivors. We chose to rely on one another because we couldn’t trust anyone else. 

Those closest to you are those who hurt you the most. “TRUST is LIKE a DRINKING glass, WHEN it’s BROKEN, don’t EXPECT your STORIES to HOLD water, for ANYBODY else EITHER” God bless us all.

Sitting in the parking lot with my grandniece and my twin sister, all three of us wondered what had happened to Stephaney? Worried about the health of my grandniece, Makenna, I now had to deal with Stephaney and her demons again. 

For years, my niece, Stephaney has consumed our lives. Her choices this past year have destroyed our ability to focus on anything other than Stephaney. We are nearly at a point of no longer caring. 

My Bluetooth had the man claiming to have bought the phone on speaker. Cindy and I met him with Makenna because she was worried that we would be shot or robbed. I immediately assumed my niece had been kidnapped. How else could someone have her cell phone? I agreed to meet him and buy it back. 

The cell phone was the only link we had. The phone had the last calls made and text messages on it. The phone was the missing link to my niece, Stephaney’s disappearance. 

After going over the options and offering to take Makenna to my home to wait for Cindy and I to go meet this man, Makenna wanted to go with us and video him for the police. 

Makenna never once believed her mother had sold the brand new cell phone we had just given Stephaney days earlier after she lost her other phone again. 

By Sunday when police found Stephaney, I knew she had sold her cell phone and the rest of my family did too. There was no way Stephaney could walk from Campus Dr to Hwy 80. 

How else did Stephaney get drugs? How else did Stephaney get 20 miles from MHMR to West Fort Worth? Stephaney had no money when she went missing. Stephaney DID have a brand new $150 phone though. Cindy had given it two her only days before the disappearance. 

Stephaney has never bought her own cell phone. Her mother provides the phone in order for us to locate Stephaney when she goes missing. But, the phone had only calls from us or to us on it. 

Stephaney’s cell phone was of very little use to us in our search for Stephaney. The phone was a dead end. 

Stephaney’s choices have had a ripple effect on our entire family. Although she has never cared for or raised her children, her behavior has been so out of control that both of the twins have had numerous health issues. 

Mug shots shared across FB or simply someone seeing their mother acting wild have been such an embarrassment to the twins that they are now home schooled to protect them from whispers about their mother.

Trying to act normal while having no idea where Stephaney was affected Cindy and I as well as the twins in the web of fear for her safety to such an extent that when Makenna wasn’t with us searching, her twin sister, Maryssa was.

Sunday evening after returning home from a wedding at Bell Tower Chapel at 9AM and spending hours searching for my niece afterwards, my cell phone rang with an unknown number. 

Officer Davis had found Stephaney living in a box and gave me the address. Cindy and Maryssa were already headed home to Weatherford some twenty miles from Fort Worth when I took the call from Officer Davis. Finding my niece in a box was horrifying. 

I immediately called Cindy and advised my husband that I wouldn’t be eating dinner as Stephaney had been found and I hoped that she would be transferred back to the Psych Ward on a mental warrant. 

Walking up to my niece and begging her to get help, I quickly realized that she wasn’t going to be detained. 

The officers left Stephaney and explained that the  warrant had expired. After being found, Stephaney decided not to come back to the box. Stephaney was truly out of it. 

We were at the box in fifteen minutes. Seconds after the police had left. Stephaney should have been transported to JPS but wasn’t because the police are tired of dealing with her. It’s sad but, accurate. 

Stephaney was in a meth induced psychosis when we arrived. She was angry, agitated and high. We were forced to leave her in her box as we had no other options. She absolutely refused to allow us to take her to JPS. 

Mental warrants have a shelf life. I don’t understand this “shelf life” because if you are mentally ill, you aren’t going to miraculously not be mentally ill on a 72 hour warrant. 

When police transfer a mentally ill patient, they don’t notify you. You have no idea where the patient is until the patient calls you with a code. This code is vitally important. 

Without a patient code, no information will be given to you whether you are the patients mother, daughter, aunt or family member. 

HIPPA laws prevent ANY information to ANYONE without a patient code be given regarding a mental patient. You MUST OBTAIN A PATIENT CODE FROM THE PATIENT in order to call, visit, bring clothes or know where they are. 

Stephaney was released far too soon from JPS/LCA. We didn’t visit her this last time because it’s too debilitating. We didn’t see her after release until she had been moved to the Group Home. Stephaney never mentioned being released on a furlough. 

Evicted from the Group Home, Cindy and I were angry after being presented with a letter as to why. We were confused and desperate as to what would happen to Stephaney now. 

Why at 31 years old, Stephaney has continued to devastate our lives? Doesn’t she realize we are getting older? Doesn’t she realize her daughters are giving up on ever having their mom in their lives? 

The owner of the Group Home never mentioned any of the issues addressed in the letter. We were shocked. Cindy and I had hoped that Stephaney would find work and get it together at the Group Home but, Cindy and I were effectively “sucker punched.” 

The owner of the Group Home failed to tell us that for two weeks she had prevented follow up visits from JPS. 

The owner knew that if she told JPS the issues addressed in her letter to Stephaney, she would forfeit the money MHMR had paid her. We wouldn’t know this until notified by JPS who assumed Stephaney was safely at the Group Home. 

I didn’t want to take my niece to MHMR. I wanted to take her to JPS but, didn’t want to argue. Since after loading my SUV Stephaney insisted on going to MHMR, I made the mistake of listening to her and subsequently gave Stephaney an opportunity to “make a run for it” as Cindy and I waited in my SUV crying about the hole we had fallen into with Stephaney. 

In Stephaney’s case, she was actually “out on a furlough from JPS/LCA.” A mental furlough also has a shelf life although it is significantly longer than a 72 hour hold. 

The mental furlough was issued after her release 3 weeks ago from JPS/LCA into a Group home. MHMR paid her first months rent at the Group home. 

Stephaney’s furlough expired on November 30th. Two days after disappearing from MHMR. 

What is a furlough for a mentally ill person? A furlough is similar to probation meaning that if the released mentally ill person is out of control, they are returned to the Psych Ward.  

The things I’ve learned about Mental Warrants, Probation, Furloughs and other things pertaining to Stephaney are surprising. I’ve been forced to learn these things because I had no choice. 

I’ve been forced to contact the Parker County and Cotton County DA to attempt to get a Warrant that covers Fort Worth. 

I’ve begged PD to pick Stephaney up. But, these are the only options left regarding my niece and her choices.  

Since Cindy and I were unaware of the “furlough status,” we had no idea when driving Stephaney to MHMR (as she had asked us to) rather than to JPS/LCA, Stephaney had an opportunity to run and did.

My niece was arrested several times the past year and after being sent to the Psych Ward the first time some 7 months ago, found a loophole in the system. What was it? No matter what she did, rather than going to jail, she was sent to the Psych Ward. 

This revolving door of mental commitments and releases kept giving Stephaney an opportunity to search for and find drugs while at the Group Home. She wasn’t monitored. She was able to come and go and subsequently, back on meth within days of being released from JPS/LCA. Stephaney had every opportunity to find drugs and, she did. 

Due to her behavior, she was evicted from the Group Home and violated her furlough. Had Cindy and I known this, Stephaney would be back in JPS/LCA. Had the Group Home owner given us ANY notice during the two weeks Stephaney was a resident, we would have contacted JPS ourselves. 

Stephaney is Bipolar One and on Lithium and Seroquil. Stephaney also refuses to take her medication and unless she’s in a Psych Ward or Jail, she’s uncontrollable. 

Many people have suggested that Cindy or I move Stephaney into our homes. This suggestion is from people who have no idea what living with a mentally ill addict actually is. They have no idea how self destructive and violent a mentally ill person on meth is. They have no idea that protecting Stephaney’s twin daughters is our highest priority. 

Having drug tests in her home because Cindy knew she would need them for Stephaney, my sister will tell you that while Stephaney believes no one can tell she’s high, Cindy can. Buying drug tests because you know your adult child is an addict is a difficult decision. However, these tests are essential to knowing why your adult child is acting irrational. 

Forcing your adult child to take a drug test was always an altercation with Stephaney. The Rules of living with Cindy were no drug use. This Rule was always in place but, Stephaney CHOSE to do drugs anyway. 

All Stephaney had to do was stay off drugs. She didn’t have to pay rent. But, Stephaney loves drugs more than her family, security or her children. 

For seventeen years, Stephaney has been kicked out of Cindy’s home again and again due to her consistent bad choices. My sister loves her daughter but, her daughter loves meth. 

My sister took on the responsibility of saving Stephaney’s children by gaining custody of her twin granddaughters fourteen years ago and my sister will not under any circumstances have Stephaney in her home under the influence. 

For over a year, Stephaney has couch surfed when not in jail or a mental institution or squatting at an abandoned estate in my neighborhood. 

Stephaney finds drugs over and over again and for over a year, I’ve had hope even when sister didn’t. I refused to give up. Stephaney’s twin daughters gave up months ago but, I was hellbent on saving Stephaney. I believe in miracles. 

In April, Stephaney was released from North Texas State Hospital. They had told Cindy and I that if we wouldn’t take Stephaney in, they wouldn’t release her. They lied. We had a call from MHMR Pecan Valley that Stephaney had been dropped off and left in the parking lot from North Texas State Hospital. Stephaney became enraged when I suggested a shelter. 

Stephaney wanted to come home and Stephaney lost that opportunity the moment she chose to do drugs after mandatory drug testing was lifted. Being on probation was the ONLY reason we had 3 years of my niece being stable. 

This short window was the only time in Stephaney’s twin daughters lives that their mother was allowed to spend time with them and re establish the relationship that she had never taken an interest in. 

After being released on probation after being a passenger in a stolen semi tractor, Stephaney was on five year probation with 3 year drug testing. Unbelievably, Stephaney counted the days for drug testing to be removed. Of course, we had no idea about this. Had Stephaney’s friends told Cindy or I earlier rather than later about her plans to go get high, we would have intervened. 

A year ago, Stephaney’s friends advised us that Stephaney was always going to go back to using after drug testing ended. But, this warning came after my niece was already back on drugs. 

Had we known this, we would have contacted the prosecutor and begged them not to lift the drug testing. I would have preferred to let my niece go to prison and never even considered paying for her to go to a 6 month drug rehab in Oklahoma as part of her probation plea had I known we would be in this situation AGAIN. 

Some of you will be shocked by my admission that I prefer my niece be in prison than an addict. My sister and I would prefer Stephaney go to prison because trying to find an “addict on the run” is the horrifying reality our lives have become when we aren’t working. 

Looking for Stephaney has taken as much if not more hours than spent with our clients. It’s time consuming, frustrating and all consuming. It’s going to bed worried if she’s eaten or is at another crack house? It’s worrying if she has a blanket or shelter. It’s wondering if she cares what she’s done to our family. I’ve forgotten how to laugh. 

I’ve lost the joy in my life. I’ve become a shell of my former self and I’ve watched my sisters desperation mirror my own hopelessness. 

Unless you have spent seventeen (nearly eighteen) years trying to fix someone, you have no real clue what it’s like. 

Part of the problem is that Stephaney has never been to prison. Arrested over 30 times in seventeen years, my niece has somehow escaped doing hard time. I can’t understand it. 

I walk into Prisons five days a week to perform TDCJ Weddings and find myself wondering why Stephaney has never been an inmate? Praying my niece will be picked up is the horrifying reality of my thoughts waiting on a guard to escort my Client and I to the visitation area for the wedding, my Clients are excited while I wonder if Prison will straighten out Stephaney? I try to focus and put Stephaney out of my mind. 

I compartmentalize my thoughts and mentally close the door. I’m a professional. I shake off my thoughts while steel doors at Prisons slam behind me. 

I focus on the Client and the prison staff. I forget what goes on outside Prison Walls. I enjoy the structure of Prisons. I’m safe there. No one is calling me. My phone is locked in my SUV. No one is telling me the latest regarding Stephaney. There is structure. There is no chaos. 

Prisons are my escape from the reality my life outside the razorwire and steels doors actually is regarding my family and Stephaney. It’s quiet. There are no distractions. 

My happy clients are excited about getting married. It’s quiet inside Units. It’s structured. No drunk guests. No frazzled vendors. No surprises. 

I’m away from anything in my life that causes me anxiety. I’ve also learned to control my claustrophobia. 

Usually, Stephaney is missing again as I ask myself if Prison would actually straighten her up? If prison or death are the only options my niece has left, I prefer prison. My sister prefers Prison too.

Our mother went to prison for heroin. Our mother got out of prison and continued being an addict. Prison didn’t change her. I wonder if it would change Stephaney? 

My niece remarkably looks like our mother. My niece doesn’t care what raw Hell she has drug our family through. My niece is killing her self as we helplessly watch. 

Yesterday, my sister didn’t find Stephaney in her box. Yesterday after being unable to locate Stephaney, Cindy and I went to MHMR and filed our very first mental health warrant. 

Why? Because the furlough warrant had expired when Officer Davis located Stephaney. I wish we had known about mental warrants sooner but, we didn’t. 

Officer Davis could not detain Stephaney when he found her in the box because there wasn’t an active warrant. He mentioned a mental detention. I googled it and educated myself as to how to obtain one. If Stephaney wouldn’t willingly get treatment, her mother and I were willing to force her to. 

Had Stephaney been picked up and taken to JPS again, we would never have lost her AGAIN. 

For those of you who assume getting a mental warrant on your crazy relative is easy, buckle up AND beware. You may or may not obtain this warrant. MHMR must approve your application. 

First, you must go through a lengthy interview process. 

Second, you must fill out the numerous documents and affidavits. Third, you must take the envelope to a judge and wait hours for him to sign it. 

Fourth, you just take the package to another location to alert mental health police that there is an active warrant in order for them to begin looking. The timeline is CRITICAL. 

Cindy and I made a copy of the above document. Why? Because beat cops could not see the mental warrant on their computers that’s why. Other than the mental warrants officers, only Cindy and I were actively looking for Stephaney. 

Beat cops had no idea a mental warrant was in effect so, we showed it to them ourselves. Frustrating isn’t it? You are on a timeline and other than 2 mental warrant officers, you and your sister, every police officer in Fort Worth has no idea they need to pick Stephaney up unless of course, we show them the mental warrant ourselves. 

The missing persons report we had filed on Stephaney was closed by Officer Davis who couldn’t take her in “due to an inactive warrant.” 

Obviously, Stephaney didn’t look “sane” in the box or even out of it. Had we not documented finding Stephaney and her condition, we would NEVER have been issued a mental health detention warrant. 

DOCUMENTARY PHOTOS proved we weren’t crazy or making any of this up. Who would? Apparently people do which is why you must sign an notarized statement that if your petition or any pertinent facts are inaccurate it’s a felony charge with a $25k fine in Texas. 

I.E. I wouldn’t suggest filing a mental warrant unless the person is truly mental. 

From the moment the clock starts ticking, you have 72 hours to either find the patient yourself or pray the mental health officers find the patient for you. 

Here’s what is required for a mental health warrant- you must have seen the patient within 72 hours. You must have a location or address. Without all of this information, you cannot get a mental health warrant issued. 

Once a judge signs a mental health warrant, MHMR advises you that if you can’t find the patient or mental health officers can’t find the patient, the judge most likely won’t sign another warrant or renew it. 

You have SEVENTY TWO HOURS. You drive everywhere. You interview homeless people. The clock is ticking. You have someone tell you they have information BUT they need money. 

You are now exhausted and believe them and you write them a check or hand them cash only to never hear from them again. You are a patsy. A sucker. An easy mark and opportunists know it. I had considered posting a reward but, weerily realize that if I do will, more fraudsters will contact me to earn a buck.  

Without photos as evidence or proof of a location, the warrant would never have been issued. 

It’s difficult to obtain a mental warrant. YOU NEED PROOF, FACTS AND AN ADDRESS. 

If Officer Davis hadn’t found Stephaney from our flyers passed out to beat cops on Sunday, we wouldn’t have seen Stephaney in person and we wouldn’t have had an address. See how this works?  

As you sit in your home looking at your Christmas tree and listening to Christmas shows where people are happy and excited for the holidays, you consider the hundreds of dollars of your Christmas money spent on flyers for your missing niece, on con artists taking advantage of you. 

You look around and fear this Christmas will be the worst you have ever had and, you have had a few really bad Christmases. Stephaney ruining the holidays again. 

Your new job is looking for Stephaney. It doesn’t pay at all and it’s stressful. The 1, 5, 10 and 20 dollar bribes to homeless people claiming to have seen her. 

I could go on and on here but, I’m tired of looking. I’m sick of wondering if Stephaney is dead or alive. I’m tired of looking for Stephaney rather than buying Christmas gifts like other families. Peace is expensive. Normality eludes me as I listen to Christmas music buying a tarp at Walmart to cover Stephaney’s box from rain coming. Walking by other shoppers who I feel are staring at me, I realize I look haggard. I realize time is of the essence. 

I realize that buying a tarp and praying Stephaney returns to the box may be a bad investment. I’ve lost hope now. I’m going through the motions but, I may never find my niece again. 

This morning after begging the DA in Parker County revoke her bond, Stephaney’s court appointed attorney advised me of a hearing on “bond conditions” December 17th at 9AM. Stephaney is “in the wind.” 

In my opinion, this attorney could care less and “his position is to keep Stephaney out of jail.” I advised him that he would have to find her himself. He’s the enemy here. I want her in jail. He wants her out. We aren’t on the same page. He has a copy of the letter and mental health records that I SENT HIM not realizing Cindy didn’t have a copy. 

While going through everything to locate a copy of Stephaney’s birth certificate and medical records to obtain a mental warrant, to my horror, I realized that I had mailed her attorney the originals. I had immediately emailed him requesting he send me a copy of the documents that I had sent him. “Without Stephaney’s consent, I am afraid that I cannot give you copies of the health records that you mailed me.” 

Her attorney knew that I was trying to obtain a mental warrant. Her attorney knew she had been kicked out of the Group Home. I emailed the letter from Grace House to him on 11-28-2018. 

I’ve called the DA in Parker County and told them point blank that my niece is on meth. I’ve begged them to issue a warrant to drug test her. Stephaney was already on probation in one state and awaiting sentencing in another. 

Awaiting a plea deal for a DWI, I cannot believe that drug testing wasn’t part of Stephaney’s bond conditions! Blood tests of this arrest confirm that Stephaney was on “everything except heroin.” 

Who on earth wouldn’t put her on bond conditions? I cannot understand it. Stephaney is “teflon.” She has been arrested over and over again. She has also been released over and over again. 

Stephaney can be hateful. On drugs, we have been called many names. Stephaney always uses “the worst mothers in the world.” Stephaney claims “we stole her kids.” Stephaney is a mess. I have no idea what we could have done differently to save Stephaney. 

Our mothers mother, faced the same truth. Tragedy is the life of trying to fix a loved one with addiction issues and mental illness. 

I wonder if drugs caused the mental illness? I google facts. I advise the prosecutor to test Stephaney’s hair because I’ve learned that meth only stays in the blood 3 days but, in the hair up to 90 days. 

I become determined to do whatever it takes to have either jail or a Psych Ward as my nieces next destination. 

I accept that Stephaney may never have a normal life and I grieve the loss. I have become hopeless and have no idea how to get “Wendy and Cindy” back to our old selves again. 

My husband notices the cloud over our home. He watches me jump to answer every phone call. He listens to me cry trying to sleep. He is helpless to fix me. Cindy’s husband calls from the road as a long haul driver asking for updates. He advises us to be careful. 

We try to pull ourselves together. We try to act as if we haven’t been through Hell. We try to smile. We are actresses. We pretend to be okay but, we aren’t. 

Sunday at a wedding posing for photos, I felt like a manequin. I go through the motions and attempt to feel the joy for my newlyweds wondering if my niece will ever find love? Will my niece ever desire a normal life enough to get her shit together? 

Stephaney’s mother and I have never paid or posted Stephaney’s bond but, Stephaney found someone to bond her out of Parker County Jail. This person gave Stephaney yet another opportunity to run wild without ever realizing it. Had there been drug testing conditions on that bond, Stephaney would be safely in jail. 

Stephaney is a manipulator. She will take everything you have and find someone else when you have nothing left to give. 

As I prepare to go try and find Stephaney again, Cindy is as depressed as I am regarding the reality of desperation our lives have become. Thank God we’ve had the twins in counseling the past year and they are safe with us. 

The twins, Maryssa and Makenna, are managing with counseling and our entire family checking around them to give them structure and predictability. 

Their aunt, Leigh Ann and her daughter Madyson keep them laughing and entertained this holiday season while Cindy and I try to control Stephaney. 

We lose Stephaney over and over again the last fourteen months only to realize she’s been committed again or she’s living in a box? It’s the tragic reality our lives have now become. Acting normal in an abnormal world. Dealing with an addict who refuses to become a part of our family is devastating and painful. Maryssa and Makenna want their old MeMe’s back. The Cindy had Wendy BEFORE Stephaney went off the rails. The hopeful twin sisters who overcame a horrible childhood and have raised Cindy’s twin granddaughters as a team. 

The twins that gave Cindy’s twin granddaughters, Maryssa and Makenna the stability that we had never had ourselves as children. The twins that also assumed Stephaney would never do drugs again after probation. Why us? We wonder why dealing with Stephaney and her choices haunts us as adults while our mothers choices haunted us as children? The twin sisters that actually believed at 50 years old, the last years of our lives would finally be happy had carefree. Taking care of clients and raising our grandchildren, we wanted the normality and predictability of work and family but, Stephaney robbed us of the things other families have. 

But, Stephaney tricked us into believing she wouldn’t screw up again. Stephaney loves meth. 

Had Cindy and I not hired our own attorney fourteen years ago, who knows what would have happened to the twins. Our role is to protect Stephaney’s children from Stephaney’s behavior. 

Our role is to make sure that even under these stressful circumstances that Cindy and I act as normal as possible while wondering if Stephaney will be found dead or alive.

For all of my dedicated readers following this latest “Stephaney Saga,” I’ve read your emails and know your sorrow. Cindy and I are praying you find your loved one. We are praying you find peace. We are praying you don’t spend seventeen years of your life hopeless.

Yesterday, Makenna applied for her first job. As she was excited and thrilled to have an opportunity, Cindy and I were sitting in a courtroom waiting on a judge to sign our mental warrant. It’s the tragic reality of our lives now.  

Today, I was supposed to drive to Allred Unit and marry Detosha. Last night, Detosha advised me her fiancée was being moved to another Unit and the wedding was cancelled.

Ironically, I’m relieved that I’m not driving to Wichita Falls today in order to take advantage of the short window to once again attempt to locate Stephaney. 

We have a short window but, Cindy and I plan to call the DA and ask to bump up the December 17th hearing in order to have a warrant issued on the DWI case in the event we cannot locate Stephaney prior to the mental warrant expiring and lose her forever to the streets of Fort Worth. To the crack houses and homeless people who finding homeless people. 

Many are homeless but, honest about why they have no one to help them. They tell you drugs destroyed their lives. They admit that after one too many mistakes, their families gave up. Their families no longer searched for them or paid thousands of dollars on ineffective drug rehab. They readily admit these facts while asking if you’ve spare change? You went to the bank to get $5 dollar bills and $1 bills because you realize nothing is free. 

The homeless will talk to you for cigarettes or money. They are honest and a few recall seeing her by Fiesta. You run back there again only to find she isn’t there.

At any point the last week or any other time that Stephaney has gone underground, she could hand borrowed a phone or called collect to let us know she was alive. 

As her children grieved the mother they thought was dead, Stephaney could care less. Stephaney never attempted contacting us because Stephaney was on a “binge.” 

Anyone going through the cycle of madness addicts bring to their loved ones knows the pain, the heartache, the despair. You are a hamster in a cage. You are in prison yourself although it’s a cell without any walls. Your actual Prison is your own mind running wild. You think you see her but, you don’t. You think she will attempt to contact you but, she doesn’t.

Your “Personal Prison” is a cell that encapsulates you with the fear, the worry and the clock ticking to find Stephaney before the warrant expires. Before law enforcement won’t care anymore and before you get a visit telling you she was found dead…