Woman waives hearing on custody interference charge

Sep. 30—SHENANDOAH — A Shenandoah woman charged with defying a court order to surrender a 14-year-old boy to Schuylkill County Children and Youth Services earlier this year waived her right to a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Susan Van Nest, 49, of 214 W. Coal St., was scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Judge Anthony J. Kilker on a charge of interference with the custody of a committed person.

The charge was filed by Detective Leo R. Luciani Jr. of the Shenandoah Police Department.

After conferring with her public defender, Van Nest chose to waive the hearing and have the charges heard in Schuylkill County Court, where she can plead guilty or enter a not guilty plea and request a trial.

Luciani charged the defendant on July 5 in connection with incidents at her home between March 28 and April 22.

In court paperwork, Luciani said that Schuylkill County Judge Christopher W. Hobbs signed an order on March 28 that severed Van Nest's parental custody of the boy.

Schuylkill County Children & Youth Services caseworker Amber Wolfe attempted to contact Van Nest to enforce the order but was unsuccessful in meeting with the defendant on several visits to her home.

Wolfe also said that on April 4, she was able to contact Van Nest, who claimed to be in New Jersey with the boy.

Wolfe documented contact with Van Nest on April 5 and directed her to surrender the child as ordered by the court, but the woman refused to comply, Luciani said.

Then Wolfe learned on April 14 that Van Nest had disconnected her telephone, according to Luciani.

Luciani said that a missing person investigation was initiated on April 8 with the assistance of law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Authorities learned on April 11 from the Shenandoah Valley School District that the child was removed from school on March 28 through a telephone call initiated by Van Nest.

The investigation closed on April 22 when the boy was found at 214 W. Coal St. and placed in custody of children and youth.

Van Nest remains free on $10,000 unsecured bail, pending further court action.