ISABELLA MILLER-JENKINS – FAMILY ABDUCTION January 1, 2010 – USMCC000424LTWH – UPDATED 09.15.2013
Date of Birth: April 16, 2002
Height: 4’0” Weight: 70 lbs
Hair: Sandy Eyes: Blue
Missing: January 1, 2010 From: Bedford, VA
Distinguishing Features: Birthmark on her abdomen.
Isabella’s parents, Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller, were lesbian partners. They met in 1997 and moved in with each other a few weeks later. In December 2000, the couple was joined in a civil union in Vermont. (Their home state of Virgina does not recognize civil unions.) In 2001, they made the decision to become parents and Lisa conceived Isabella with sperm from an anonymous donor. Janet never legally adopted her. Four months after Isabella’s birth, the family moved to Fair Haven, Vermont. Lisa had fertility treatments to try and have another baby, but wasn’t able to.
In 2003, Lisa and Janet ended their relationship amicably and Lisa moved back to Virginia with Isabella. The women had an informal agreement where Janet would pay child support and have regular visits with Isabella, but their cooperation ended in 2003, after Lisa joined the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a conservative congregation founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell, and renounced her homosexuality. She now believes homosexuality is a sin.
When Judge William Cohen in Vermont dissolved the couple’s civil union in 2004, he gave full custody of Isabella to Lisa and liberal visitation to Janet. Lisa regularly refused to allow Janet access to Isabella, however, because she felt Janet was not Isabella’s mother and claimed to be protecting Isabella from the homosexual lifestyle. She testified that Janet was a physically and emotionally abusive partner, and she also accused Janet of sexually abusing Isabella. Janet denied these allegations under oath, and Virginia’s Child Protective Services deemed the abuse accusations unfounded. Judge Cohen fined Lisa for $25.00 for every day she refused to let Janet see Isabella, and he made the ruling retroactive. Lisa quickly accumulated thousands of dollars in fines.
Lisa fought the case up to the Supreme Court of Vermont, which decided against her, ruling that Janet was Isabella’s legal parent and the case was the same as any custody dispute between heterosexual parents. Lisa then tried to change jurisdiction to Virginia. The lower courts sided with her, but the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that Vermont had jurisdiction. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case. On November 20, 2009, Judge Cohen found Lisa in contempt of court and awarded custody of Isabella to Janet, saying this was the only way Isabella would be able to spend time with both parents.
Lisa took Isabella and disappeared sometime in the fall of 2009. It’s unclear exactly when, but her neighbours said they hadn’t seen her since September. Investigators believe she initially took Isabella to Canada and then to Mexico. She was supposed to turn Isabella over the Janet on January 1, 2010, but she never did. Judge Cohen gave her 30 days to comply with the ruling, then found her in contempt of court and issued a felony warrant for her arrest on charges of kidnapping.
In April 2011, Timothy David “Timo” Miller (no apparent relation to Lisa) was arrested in Alexandria, Virginia and charged with aiding and abetting Lisa and Isabella’s flight. He is a Mennonite missionary in Nicaragua and authorities believed he helped Lisa and Isabella leave the United States and move to a “safe house” in the capital on Managua. Timothy’s mother-in-law’s credit card was used to purchase tickets for Lisa and Isabella to fly to El Salvador, and thereafter Nicaragua. In October, authorities dropped the charges against Timothy in exchange for his cooperation in the investigation.
In December of 2011, Kenneth Miller (no relation to Lisa or Timothy) was arrested and charged with aiding the kidnapping based on evidence obtained from Timothy. During the jury selection for Kenneth’s trial, the case gained even more notoriety when commentator Bryan Fischer wrote on Twitter in support of kidnapping children from same-sex households and smuggling them to what he calls ‘normal homes’. Kenneth was found guilty on August 14, 2012, of aiding in international parental kidnapping of a minor after only a few hours of jury deliberation. Miller faces up to 3 years in prison.
The day after Kenneth Miller was convicted, Janet filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act suit against Lisa Miller, Kenneth Miller and several others who allegedly helped Lisa Miller flee the country. Among the defendants were various ministries founded by the late Jerry Falwell, including Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University School Of Law.
The Miller-Jenkins custody battle has made national headlines because of the issues it involves. Pick a major socially debated issue and this case will have a little of everything. Religion and homosexuality are played against each other in a war that can never be won by either side. Thousands of adults weigh in and become involved to help ‘support’ whichever cause they believe to be right, continually adding to the drama and complication surrounding this case.
In the midst of everything, I ask this – WHAT ABOUT ISABELLA? Who is advocating for the innocent child caught in the middle of this disastrous and life changing fight being fought over her by all of those which she loves and trusts most? This is not a debate on religion, nor a debate on one’s sexuality. What this is, is a PARENTAL ABDUCTION. Plain and simple. Isabella was taken from one of her parents by her other parent and has been completely alienated from Janet’s love, affection and support.
Lisa needs to be brought back to the US and face her punishment to the fullest extent of the law. Janet needs to be reunited with her daughter, and Isabella needs to be in an environment that supports her and encourages her. One that does not ask her to weigh in on adult issues and condemn someone that she loves and needs in her life because of their sexual preference. Isabella needs to be brought home – TO HER CUSTODIAL PARENT – and allowed to live the life that she deserves – THE LIFE OF A LITTLE GIRL.
Lisa and Isabella may still be in Nicaragua, or they may be in El Salvador. Authorities, including US Marshalls, continue to search for Isabella and are working relentlessly to see that this little girl is brought home.
Janet – my thoughts are with you and your daughter every day. Your strength, determination and persistence is admirable. You are a wonderful MOTHER. Thank you for being the type of parent that only fights for what is in their child’s best interest.
Date of Birth: September 6, 1968
Height: 5’2” Weight: 160 lbs
Hair: Brown Eyes: Brown
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Isabella Miller-Jenkins, please immediately contact the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office at:
The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children at: