Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Drops Several Charges against Mother of Missing Twins

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Drops Several Charges against Mother of Missing Twins

Article excerpt

A judge has dismissed several criminal counts against a Penn Hills mother whose twins went missing more than a decade ago, finding that prosecutors did not present enough evidence to pursue charges of obstruction, concealment and endangerment.

In a 13-page opinion and order issued Wednesday, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Thomas E. Flaherty also criticized the county's Office of Children, Youth and Families for not conducting follow-up contacts with Patricia Fowler for the past decade.

Judge Flaherty granted a petition filed on behalf of Ms. Fowler, 48, to dismiss charges of obstruction of justice, two counts of concealing the whereabouts of a child and endangering welfare of children in connection with missing twins Ivon and Inisha Fowler, who would be about 18 now.

The judge wrote that prosecutors had not established the basic evidence needed to pursue those charges, but he allowed a count of unsworn falsification to authorities to remain. Defense attorney Aaron Sontz did not challenge another pending charge of conspiracy.

In addition, a separate criminal case is pending against Ms. Fowler for receiving welfare benefits for the twins. Mr. Sontz is also representing Ms. Fowler in that case.

Mike Manko, spokesman for the county district attorney's office, said Thursday that prosecutors were reviewing the judge's decision.

The DA's office has two options: It can refile the charges with new evidence or it can appeal to state Superior Court.

Ms. Fowler's twins have not been seen for more than a decade. Authorities have accused Ms. Fowler of telling several different stories about what happened to the children, all of them deemed to be untrue.

The criminal cases against Ms. Fowler began to unfold in July 2016, when four of her children were removed from her home in Penn Hills because of concerns about medical neglect. During the course of the investigation by CYF, concerns were raised as to the whereabouts of Ivon and Inisha, who would have been juveniles at the time. A CYF caseworker went to Penn Hills Police for assistance.

During interviews with police, Ms. Fowler gave varying accounts about where the twins were, including that they were staying in another state with relatives and that she had sold them.

Judge Flaherty noted that the boy twin, Ivon, was burned at age 2 and received no follow-up care. CYF investigated, but did not report the incident to police or file a dependency petition. The twins' father, Datwon Lyons, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Ivon had been scalded in the bathtub in 2000, spent nearly three weeks in a hospital burn unit and was burned over 40 percent of his body.

In October 2006, the judge wrote, a CYF caseworker said during a dependency court hearing that Ivon "reports to be doing well staying with relatives in North Carolina and attending school regularly. …

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