The 5-year-old boy was excited to start kindergarten Tuesday in Tampa.
Jim and Betty Gardner, who have helped raise the boy since he was an infant, were working hard to prepare him by establishing a morning routine.
Now, they’re worried how his first school year will begin.
The child was taken into protective custody Saturday after authorities arrested his mother and accused her of trying to sell him to the Gardners for $2,000.
Jessica Mickles Beers, 28, whose last known address was in Seminole, was charged with Felony Sale of Parental Rights along with a Violation of Probation (VOP) on her pending Grand Theft charge. At her First Appearance Hearing on Sunday, bail was set at $10,000.
Gardner, 58, said he and his wife met Beers when the boy was just a few months old after she called their church for assistance. They took food and diapers to her.
Beers essentially was homeless, but was living with other people. She asked to move in with the Gardners and they agreed, Gardner said.
For the next five (5) years or so, the Gardners, who have fostered numerous children over the years, helped take care of Beers and her child.
About two years ago, Beers began talking about having the couple take guardianship of her son but never followed through with it. Early Saturday, Gardner said, Beers called him and offered to sign away her parental rights if the Gardners would pay her $2,000.
“It was money or else …” Gardner said. “I thought ‘Whoa, that’s illegal.’ ”
He contacted the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), which arrested Beers at a Seminole grocery store when she came to collect the cash.
The child was not with Beers, but she told authorities where he could be found, Gardner said. Gardner said he believes Beers is addicted to prescription drugs.
The Blake & Dorsten, P.A. in Clearwater handles all Misdemeanor and Felony charges including DUI, Drug Trafficking and/or Drug Offenses, Theft Offenses and Crimes of Violence.
For more information, please contact the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. at 727.286.6141. You can also reach criminal defense attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org