Couple accused of abducting 3 Central Texas children arrested

Maria Gilseth and her husband Jeffrey Gilseth were arrested after a traffic stop in Topeka,...
Maria Gilseth and her husband Jeffrey Gilseth were arrested after a traffic stop in Topeka, Kan. (Booking photos)(KWTX)
Published: Feb. 27, 2019 at 8:35 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Jeffrey Gilseth, 32, and Maria Gilseth, 32, were taken into custody Wednesday afternoon charged with interference with child custody and unlawful restraint.

The two were named in arrest warrants after police say they abducted their three children, of whom they did not have custody, during a supervised visit on Feb. 21 in Killeen.

Bell County authorities are working to return the two to Central Texas to face the charges.

The couple’s vehicle was spotted Wednesday in Riley County, Kan., by members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Apprehension Task Force and they, along with state and local officers, followed the vehicle.

Just before 1 p.m., authorities pinned their car in a toll plaza on Interstate 70 in Topeka, Kan., authorities said.

The Gilseths were taken into custody without incident, authorities said.

The children, Hunter Gilseth, 11, Dylan Gilseth, 9, and Levi Gilseth, 4, who had been the focus of an ongoing search involving the U.S. Marshals Service, were taken to a juvenile intake and assessment center for processing.

“This is another example of the daily coordination and cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals who work to protect children in our society every day. Missing and Exploited children cases are among the duties and responsibilities of the US Marshals Service,” said Ron Miller, the U.S. Marshal for Kansas.

The boys were taken from the couple based on a history of violence between the parents, in relation to an incident in March of last year.

Jeffrey reached out to media saying he and Maria planned to return with the boys and the couple knew they'd face jail time, but they wanted to share their side of the story.

They said they've been working with CPS since last year to get the boys back.

Maria said, "we have cooperated with these people, we've done all of our services, and then some."

But in November or December Jeffrey says they got word CPS was reversing its decision.

"They told us they were going to change it from reunification to adoption and of course our lawyers were dumbfounded," he explained.

Jeffrey said they took the boys because they were worried they'd be adopted to another family, and he was concerned for the well-being of the boys with their current appointed caregivers.

He sent a video to media showing two of the boys and Maria in what appeared to be a hotel room, sometime between the disappearance last Thursday and the Wednesday arrest.

Jeffrey is heard asking Hunter and Dylan if they're happy where they're currently placed.

Both boys said no and cited examples of incidents that upset them.

The boys listed examples of relatives they'd like to live with who are all on their father's side.

Maria said she wants the same thing.

"They helped raise the boys. The boys know them, they love them," Maria said.

Jeffrey said he's frustrated the concerns he, Maria, and their oldest son have expressed to officials throughout this process seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

On one portion of the video he's heard speaking to Hunter saying, "we're going to take you back because it's the right thing to do, we're trying to help you right now and that's why we're doing this video, cause we're trying to get somebody out there to listen and actually help you."

The U.S. Marshals Service says the boys were taken to a juvenile intake center and a CPS spokesperson said they will re-assess the situation to determine the best place for them.

We have reached out to the family who was taking care of the boys and were not able to speak with them directly, but we're told they're preparing for the Gilseth brothers to come home.