MCCULLOCH COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The parents accused of kidnapping their own children from a Child Protective Services visitation in Killeen are expected to return the three boys and turn themselves in soon.
Jeffrey Gilseth’s attorney, Eddie Shell, who is based in Marble Falls said he has no idea where he and his wife Maria are, but says he has received reliable information that they will be contacting his law office in the next day or two to return the children and turn themselves in.
As of Monday night, the Gilseth’s are still on the run, and law enforcement say they are armed and their three boys are in “imminent danger.”
According to court records KXAN obtained, CPS first removed the three boys, Hunter, 11, Dylan, 9, and Levi, 4, on May 10, 2018.
In March of 2018, CPS says Maria left the house after a physical fight with her husband and was found by someone on a county road in McCullouch County with bruises all over her body. She told law enforcement Jeffrey pulled her hair causing her to fall to the floor, and then he got on top of her and started hitting her and kicking her. She also said it happened in front of the children.
A warrant was issued for her husband, and a protective order was placed on Jeffrey towards all family members. She said her husband — who is a military veteran — suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has anger management issues, has weapons and quit taking medication to manage his PTSD.
CPS said Maria went to stay at a shelter, the children went to stay with their grandmother and two deputies went to their home to talk to Jeffrey.
Jeffrey told law enforcement Maria initiated the fight and her injuries were from him trying to restrain her. He also told them she has a hemoglobin condition which causes her to bruise more easily, something she later said she did not have.
CPS says the deputies decided not to arrest Jeffrey, did not interview the children and did not ask Maria about the medical condition, At the time, Jeffrey told deputies he would be moving and the mom would be returning to the home with the children.
Once CPS got involved, the agency says the Gilseths refused to cooperate and recount what happened on that March day. At one point they stopped answering calls from CPS.
CPS later received information Jeffrey allegedly threatened to kill his wife and the children, cut their bodies into pieces and burn them. CPS also said she has been abused for 13 years in the front of the children.
But Jeffrey’s attorney, Shell, reached out to KXAN and said there is no history of abuse beyond the one fight in March of last year, which he said only involved some shoving.
According to Shell, Jeffrey said the couple has done everything they’ve been asked to do by CPS, but were told at the last family meeting that CPS was terminating their parental rights. That’s why he believes they took matters into their own hands and took off with the kids during the last visitation.
“I obviously don’t condone taking the children and running from them, but I can sure understand it,” said Shell.
Shell said he has not heard from the couple since their disappearance. When asked if Jeffrey would hurt the kids he said “absolutely not.”
“I thank God that Texas allows you to have a jury trial because I believe we can convince 12 people in McCullouch County that this was wrong, but, by golly, it’s certainly understandable and that the best place for these kids is with the parents.”
CPS would not comment beyond what is in the court records. The Gilseths address is listed in Brady. The removal affidavit was filed in a district court in Mason, near Brady.