Luba Shipman had reservations about sending her 3-year-old daughter Deonna with her father for a visit last Wednesday, but she always expected the child to come home.
Now, Luba is facing every parent's worst nightmare: her daughter is missing.
Luba and her ex-husband, Jeffrey, shared joint custody of the little girl since their divorce three years ago. While Luba had physical custody, Jeffrey was allowed visitation. Both parents filed petitions seeking to modify the order earlier this month in Onondaga County Family Court. Deonna went to her father's for her scheduled court-ordered visitation on Wednesday July 11. She was supposed to return by 5 p.m. Thursday July 12.
She never came home.
"He has her passport," Luba said. "He could have left the country. I have no idea of where they could be."
Luba said that her ex-husband is unstable and possibly suicidal. "He has a long history of chronic advanced depression and bipolar disorder," she said. "If he doesn't take his medications for a long time, he makes irrational decisions."
Luba said that Jeffrey told her after their last court appearance that if he couldn't have Deonna, no one could. Understandably, Luba is terrified for her daughter's safety.
"He does possess two guns," Luba said. "I know he's desperate I'm afraid he might take both their lives. His mind just isn't working right."
NYS Missing Child Alert issued
On Monday July 16, four days after Luba was supposed to see her daughter again, the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department issued a New York State Missing Child Alert. According to Deputy Herb Wiggins, public information officer for the sheriff's department, Luba called them around 5:30 Thursday night to report her daughter missing. Since that time, Wiggins said, the department has done everything in its power to find her.
"We are taking all steps possible to locate the missing child," he said. "We're really pulling out all the stops. All of the detectives are really busy trying to find her."