Couple accused of abducting 3 children returned to Central Texas

Maria Gilseth and her husband Jeffrey Gilseth were booked into the Bell County Jail just after 2 p.m. Monday. (Jail photos)
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) Jeffrey Gilseth, 32, and Maria Gilseth, 32, who 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, were in the Bell County Jail Monday afternoon.

Bell County deputies returned the couple to Central Texas Monday from the Shawnee County Jail in Topeka, Kan., where they’ve been held since their arrests last month.

Maria Gilseth is facing a charge of interference with child custody and Jeffrey Gilseth is facing interference with child custody and unlawful restraint charges.

Bonds for both were recommended at $100,000 each.

The couple’s vehicle was spotted on Feb. 27 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.

The children were removed from their parents in May 2018 after a two-month investigation led by Child Protective Services in McCullough County.

A document filed in McCulloch County said deputies with the Sheriff’s Department were called out to a disturbance at the home where Maria showed deputies’ bruises on her body she said were caused by Jeffrey.

She told deputies the children had witnessed the abuse and Jeffrey had threaten her saying “the children are not leaving the home over my dead body."

Maria told deputies the children had not experienced physical violence.

The three boys were then placed with their paternal grandmother while the investigation took place.

The document states Jeffrey told authorities Maria had initiated the fight and the bruising came from her suffering from a medical condition that caused issues with bruising.

Authorities advised both parents to live apart temporarily and to not be alone together with the children.

That is when CPS was called to provide the family with help.

The document states both parents were unable to stay away from each other and through interviewing the children there were prior physical altercations between the parents.