HOUSTON (AP) — A boy who was snatched from his Houston home when he was 8-months-old and moved around Texas for eight years before he was found will be removed from foster care and reunited with his siblings, a judge ruled Wednesday.
State District Judge Mike Schneider ordered that 8-year-old Miguel Morin be placed in the custody of a couple caring for his four siblings, Juanita and Joseph Aguillard. Miguel has been in foster care since authorities found him at the Houston home of his former baby sitter's sister in March. Authorities say Miguel spent most of the time he was kidnapped in East and Central Texas.
Miguel's former baby sitter, Krystle Tanner, and her mother, Gloria Walker, have been charged with kidnapping and injury to a child in his 2004 disappearance. The women have pleaded not guilty and are jailed in San Augustine, about 140 miles northeast of Houston.
Estella Olguin, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services in Houston, said the ultimate goal is for Miguel's parents, Auboni Champion-Morin and Fernando Morin, and the Aguillards have joint custody of him "so that Miguel can still have a relationship with his parents and stay with his siblings."
Miguel is expected to be reunited with his siblings by Friday after paperwork is completed, Olguin said. CPS and the boy's parents have declined to say why the Aguillards — friends of the family — have custody of the four other children, citing privacy issues.
Authorities say Tanner snatched Miguel from his home when he was a baby and, along with her mother, concealed the boy's true identity for years, moving him from one home to another to avoid detection. After Tanner's March arrest in the kidnapping, her sister called authorities to say Miguel was staying at her home in Houston.
Miguel's parents will be allowed to visit the boy at the Aguillards' home and have requested that Miguel be allowed to visit them on weekends. CPS officials plan to see the Morins' home before deciding whether to approve the request for weekend visits.
Olguin said everyone involved will meet in mediation before the next court hearing in March to see if they can wrap up the matter.
She said Miguel, who had never gone to school and couldn't read or write when he was found by authorities, has caught up with other students in his second-grade class and is excelling in school.
"Considering his life has really changed as he knew it, he's doing really well," Olguin said.
William Thursland, a court appointed attorney for Miguel, said he wants to see how the boy adjusts to living with the Aguillards before determining what will ultimately happen in his case. But he said he's pleased with Miguel's progress so far.
"He's a very well-adjusted, happy guy," Thursland said. "I think it's gone as well as we could have hoped."
Miguel has been told about the true identity of his parents and his siblings, and he has been having weekly joint therapy sessions with his parents. He also has been visiting his siblings at the Aguillards' home and stayed with them during the Christmas holiday, Joseph Aguillard said.
"He bonded with his brothers and sisters from day one," Juanita Aguillard said. "He loves the family."
Miguel's parents, who live in Houston, said after Wednesday's hearing that they were pleased with the judge's decision.
"I'm happy with everything right now," Champion-Morin said.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: www.twitter.com/juanlozano70 .