Two-year-old Dwight Stallings remains missing, and Tanisha Edwards, his mother with a history of drug abuse, is either unwilling or unable to reveal his whereabouts. The bizarre story Edwards told under oath to Sacramento Juvenile Court Judge Jerilyn Borack on June 8 of last year was "difficult to believe," as the judge herself stated at the time.
A transcript of those proceedings, obtained after Bee reporters Marjie Lundstrom and Sam Stanton petitioned the Juvenile Court for the confidential records, is chilling. To her credit, Judge Borack ordered the transcript released. "The needs of the community and the protection of the child" she said, "outweigh the policy considerations favoring confidentiality of juvenile case files." In this case, that is clearly true.
According to the transcript, Edwards told the court that she left her child in the parking lot of a Nevada Motel 6. She gave him to relatives of her husband, two women she did not know, she claimed, who were dressed in "Muslim attire."
Edwards could not name the town in Nevada where she allegedly relinquished her child nor how her husband's relatives found her there.
Judge Borack clearly thought she was lying and asked her if she knew the meaning of perjury.
Surprisingly, no one, not the attorney for the missing child, or the deputy county counsel representing Sacramento County's Child Protective Services, objected when Edwards' attorney asked at the end of that hearing that his client be released.
The boy's father and uncle are angry that the county seemed to drop the ball in this case. "My wife can't go to the hospital and have a baby and six months later say, 'I don't know where it is,' " Dwight Stallings, the baby's uncle and namesake, told The Bee's Lundstrom and Stanton. "This isn't a stuffed animal."
While the transcript provides few clues for finding "Baby Dwight," it does reveal volumes about the agency charged with protecting him and other children at high risk for neglect and abuse.
Unable to get a response from the mother about where her child was, county officials appear to have simply dropped the case forgotten him. They allowed the mother to walk away.
For months, they didn't even file a missing persons report for the child.
Edwards, who had been jailed for failure to produce her son, was released the day she appeared in Juvenile Court. She disappeared from the public record until Elk Grove police arrested her in March, nine months later, at the behest of CPS. That's when authorities began asking again: What happened to Baby Dwight? Where is he?
If his mother knows, she's still not saying.
Sheriff's investigators have said what everyone fears in this case, that the boy may be dead. The nine-month delay between the time Tanisha Edwards was first arrested and when she was taken into custody again will make their investigation more difficult the chances of finding the boy or his remains, more remote.