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Family flees with disabled adult siblings
Two men are facing felony charges for allegedly fleeing a courtroom in Coupeville with their developmentally disabled brothers after a judge granted custody of the vulnerable adults to their niece, court documents state.
Prosecutors charged 63-year-old Allen R. Shipman and 74-year-old Jerry G. Shipman in Island County Superior Court June 30 with two counts each of first-degree custodial interference. Both men are West Richland residents.
An Island County Superior Court judge pro tem ordered during a hearing last fall that the men’s niece would be the legal guardian and have sole custody of the two brothers, who were diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome and require specialized care.
The two defendants, however, escorted their disabled brothers out of the court and fled in a vehicle, according to a report on the incident by Coupeville Marshal Rick Norrie.
A deputy at the Coupeville Marshal’s Office opened a missing persons case on the two men in December of 2013. The deputy contacted a police department in Arkansas where the two men were reportedly staying. Officers in Arkansas found the two men and they were returned to the niece’s custody.
The niece had to place the two men at a senior living home due to their failing health, the report states.