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Child protection petition filed on behalf of 9-year-old stowaway

Published: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 8:59 a.m. CDT

MINNEAPOLIS (MCT) - A child protection petition was filed Friday in Hennepin County District Court on behalf of the 9-year-old stowaway to Las Vegas, detailing the boy's pattern of aggression and running away from home that started last summer.

The six-page petition begins a process of determining the child's future, what sort of services he might need and whether he should be removed from his home.

On Oct. 3, the boy was able to get past security checkpoints at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and board a flight to Las Vegas without a ticket. His actions drew international attention, with reactions ranging from bemusement to incredulity to dismay. In subsequent days, his father spoke about his son's previous illegal activities, revealing a troubled history reflected by the petition released Friday, and pleaded for help.

His reported misbehavior escalated last summer when he started "not coming home" and "walking out when he was mad," according to his mother, who is cited in the petition, which is signed by county social worker Susan Hoffert and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Cory Carlson.

The mother said the boy had been suspended from school this year because of "aggressive behavior." She said that when she works, her son goes to work with his father. When the mother is not at work, the boy stays home with her, the petition said.

If the boy gets upset, "he usually goes to a nearby playground or to a friend's home without permission," his mother reported in the petition. He also "has a tendency to spend the night at people's houses without permission," the petition said.

One court spokeswoman said the child has not yet returned to Minnesota from Las Vegas, where he has been in protective custody since he arrived there alone as an unticketed passenger on a Delta flight from Minneapolis last Thursday. Once he returns to Minnesota, Child Protective Services has 72 hours to conduct a hearing, according to a courts spokeswoman.

Another spokeswoman said she couldn't confirm the time frame because it is not public data nor would she say where the boy will go once he returns to Minneapolis. It is standard practice, however, to appoint an attorney for the boy to represent his interests, she said.

The petition filed in juvenile court said that the boy's mother has not used "physical discipline" on the boy, and that she is willing to work with protective services and "supports an evaluation for placement" of the boy.

The boy and his parents are identified in the document by name, but the Star Tribune doesn't identify juveniles in protection or criminal matters. The boy is too young to be charged with a crime.

His mother reported that he has "behavior issues" and is seeing a therapist; "however, it appears their last session was on Aug. 13," the petition said.

The petition detailed previous incidents, including prior child protection and police encounters.

On Aug. 3 at 3 p.m., the boy left home at 3 p.m. to go to the library. He had not returned by 10 p.m. when his mother went to sleep. She said she called police at 1:30 p.m. the following day, but found her son at a park a few minutes later. The petition said the mother at the time "declined community-based family assessment services."

On Sept. 18, the boy was found at the Midtown YWCA unsupervised in the swimming pool at closing time. When police came, he refused to give his name or reveal who his parents are. He was taken to St. Joseph's Home for Children, the petition said.

The next day, a child protection investigation was conducted and the boy's mother reported that her son had previously "disappeared" during a trip to the downtown Target store. He was seen on security video leaving the store. Police were called, but the protection case was closed "without a finding of maltreatment" because there "was not a preponderance of evidence that neglect had occurred," the petition said.

Then, on Oct. 1, the boy stole a large delivery truck from downtown Minneapolis and drove down Interstate 35W to Edina, "damaging other vehicles." The petition said he was "uncooperative with police" when he was caught, but was returned to his mother.

Last Wednesday, a Minneapolis Airport Police theft report was filed against the boy after he ate a meal at a restaurant, then left without paying. He also left behind a bag he had taken off a luggage carousel, the petition said.

(c)2013 Star Tribune (Minneapolis) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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